Bald and golden eagles face many anthropogenic stressors such as wind turbines, lead poisoning, electrocutions, and illegal shootings. Unfortunately, current conservation management plans are not as strong or useful as they could be due to a lack of genetic information about each species. Seeing the need for information, in 2012 the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma’s Grey Snow Eagle House reached out to Oklahoma State University (Ronald A. Van Den Bussche laboratory) to partner in developing a genetic research program for bald and golden eagles. Utilizing the generated genetics and genomic data, this project aims to determine conservation units and answer debated questions about bald and golden eagle ecology. Currently, Aviary Director Dr. Megan Judkins is working on this project with the Dr. Ronald A. Van Den Bussche at OSU.
Throughout this project, the research team has collaborated with over 15 non-governmental organizations and 3 government organizations to obtain blood samples from bald and golden eagles from throughout the United States. These samples have helped generate 28 bald eagle genomes generated at a 2X coverage, one golden eagle genome generated at an 88X coverage, and a custom genetic SNP chip with ~100,000 genetic markers representing both eagle species. These markers have been utilized to publish four peer-reviewed papers in journals such as Conservation Genetics, Journal of Raptor Research, and the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. Megan and Ronald are also members in the Western Golden Eagle Landscape Genomics Working group organized by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. To visit our collaborator’s, Dr. Ronald Van Den Bussche, website please visit http://ronvandenbussche.wix.com/vdblab. To inquire about this project, please contact Megan Judkins at mjudkins (at) iowanation.org or visit her research website at meganjudkins.wix.com/research.
Current Research Publications
Judkins, ME, Roemer GW, Millsap BA, Barnes JG, Bedrosian BE, Clark SL, Domenech R, Herring G, Lamont M, Smith BW, Stahlecker DW, Stuber MJ, Warren WC, Van Den Bussche RA. 2023. A 37K SNP Array for the Management and Conservation of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) Conservation Genetics, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-023-01508-3
Judkins ME, Couger BM, Warren WC, Van Den Bussche RA. 2019. A 50K SNP array reveals genetic structure for bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) Conservation Genetics, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-019-01216-x.
Van Den Bussche RA, Judkins ME, Montague MJ, and Warren WC. 2016. A resource of genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms for the conservation and management of golden eagles. Journal of Raptor Research, 51(3):368-377.
Judkins, ME and Van Den Bussche RA. 2018. Holarctic phylogeography of golden eagles and evaluation of alternative North American management approaches. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 123(2):471-482.