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Title: Variation in capture and wild populations of the barn owl Tyto alba alba
Author: Laurel, L.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1996
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Barn Owls Tyto alba alba have undergone a population decline in Britain since the 1930s; the release of captive-bred barn owls has been a popular response to the perceived problem. A loss of genetic variability is predicted from available demographic data for both captive and wild barn owl populations, this study was initiated to assess the suitability of protein electrophoresis and quantitative variation for monitoring genetic variation in barn owl populations. A total of 304 samples were obtained over three years, from barn owls from two wild and three captive populations in Britain. Quantitative traits were assessed for their suitability for heritability analysis (measurement error, intercorrelations of traits, sexual dimorphism and population differentiation); fluctuating asymmetry (FA), and two possible predictors of body condition based on tarsus and weight data, and a blood parameter (packed cell volume) are also discussed. Heritability in one wild population were calculated by parent offspring regressions and analysis of variance of sibling data. Heritability estimates were characterised by large standard errors; the problems of estimating heritability in wild populations are discussed. Heritability of tarsus length of mean offspring/mid-parent regression (±S.E) was 0.64 ±0.27; the genetic coefficient of variation was 2.40%. It is argued that the genetic coefficient of variation, rather than heritability, is the appropriate statistic for inter-population comparisons of heritable quantitative variation; the barn owl population had a level of genetic variation for tarsus length comparable to that demonstrated in other avian studies. The merits of isozyme and quantitative genetic approaches to monitoring genetic variation are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available