Genetic diversity of the Critically Endangered Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi (Aves: Accipitridae) and notes on its conservation

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A.U. Luczon
I.K.C. Fontanilla
P.S. Ong
Z.U. Basiao
A.M.T. Sumaya
J.P. Quilang


The Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi is a diurnal raptor endemic to the Philippines. Its distribution is restricted to remaining forests on the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao. The Philippine Eagle is classified as a Critically Endangered species under the IUCN Red List, with a high end estimated population of only 500 breeding pairs in the wild. Population decline has been attributed to continuing deforestation, particularly since the mid-1900s, and hunting. This study aimed to identify the effects of population decline on the genetic structure of the present population of the Philippine Eagle by sequencing 1132bp of the mitochondrial control region from 22 individuals. Control region haplotype diversity (h = 0.8960±0.05590) and nucleotide diversity (π = 0.006194±0.003372) are comparable with other accipitrid species. Maximum likelihood trees and network analysis show that the Luzon and Samar individuals come from different lineages, but both shared a common ancestral population with the Mindanao population. The genetic diversity, multimodal mismatch distribution for the control region and high frequency of lower class modes all indicate a recent bottleneck for the Philippine Eagle population. Possible strategies for conservation are discussed.

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