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Ecol Evol. 2016 Dec 12;7(1):107-114. doi: 10.1002/ece3.2631. eCollection 2017 Jan.

Legacy or colonization? Posteruption establishment of peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) on a volcanically active subarctic island.

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US Geological Survey Alaska Science Center Anchorage AK USA.
US Fish and Wildlife Service Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Homer AK USA.
Department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences and Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum Brigham Young University Provo UT USA.


How populations and communities reassemble following disturbances are affected by a number of factors, with the arrival order of founding populations often having a profound influence on later populations and community structure. Kasatochi Island is a small volcano located in the central Aleutian archipelago that erupted violently August 8, 2008, sterilizing the island of avian biodiversity. Prior to the eruption, Kasatochi was the center of abundance for breeding seabirds in the central Aleutian Islands and supported several breeding pairs of peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus). We examined the reestablishment of peregrine falcons on Kasatochi by evaluating the genetic relatedness among legacy samples collected in 2006 to those collected posteruption and to other falcons breeding along the archipelago. No genotypes found in posteruption samples were identical to genotypes collected from pre-eruption samples. However, genetic analyses suggest that individuals closely related to peregrine falcons occupying pre-eruption Kasatochi returned following the eruption and successfully fledged young; thus, a genetic legacy of pre-eruption falcons was present on posteruption Kasatochi Island. We hypothesize that the rapid reestablishment of peregrine falcons on Kasatochi was likely facilitated by behavioral characteristics of peregrine falcons breeding in the Aleutian Islands, such as year-round residency and breeding site fidelity, the presence of an abundant food source (seabirds), and limited vegetation requirements by seabirds and falcons.


Falco peregrinus; Kasatochi Island; colonization; dispersal; genetic legacy; peregrine falcon

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