Nadeau, Andrew Joseph – A Genetic Analysis of Bald Eagles in the Pacific Northwest: Retained Genetic Diversity Following a Large-Scale Population Bottleneck. 2012.
Bald eagles in much of the continental United States may have undergone a significant population bottleneck in the late 1970’s due to the extensive use of toxic chemicals and pesticides such as dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) and other organochlorides.The bioaccumulation of these pesticides, especially DDT, had adverse effects on the reproduction of birds, including direct effects on breeding adults and developing embryos. The main objectives of this research are to first, determine the degree and distribution of genetic diversity within and between bald eagle populations in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, second, to estimate current effective population size (Ne) with microsatellite data, and lastly, to test the hypothesis that populations in historically DDT affected areas (Pacific Northwest) will exhibit characteristics typical of a population bottleneck. Through the use of six polymorphic microsatellite loci, I hope to prove my hypothesis of bald eagles in the Pacific Northwest exhibiting characteristics typical of a bottlenecked population – i.e. having a reduced number of alleles and a heterozygosity excess.