Conservation genetics of the Great Bustard


In collaboration with Juan Carlos Alonso at the MNCN, we are conducting detailed surveys of genetic diversity in Iberian populations of the great bustard (Otis tarda). Using mtDNA and microsatellite markers we have documented clear genetic differentiation between Iberia and Morocco populations, and some degree of structure within Spain. Using long-term demographic data from Alonso’s group in combination with genetic data, we have also been able to infer a sudden drop in population size that coincides with the arrival of the Romans to Iberia some 2000 years ago! Bustards are threatened by habitat destruction and fragmentation, and we continue to generate molecular markers that we can use to understand patterns of gene flow among leks and populations in order to better manage and conserve this emblematic steppe species.

Related publications:

Horreo, J. L., J. C. Alonso, C. Palacín, B. Milá. 2014. Genetic structure in Iberian and Moroccan populations of the globally threatened great bustard Otis tarda: a microsatellite perspective. Journal of Avian Biology, 45:1-7.

Horreo, J. L., J. C. Alonso, B. Milá. 2014. DNA sequences from the Little Brown Bustard Eupodotis humilis suggest its close phylogenetic relationship to the Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax. Ostrich, 85(1):1-5.

Horreo, J. L., C. Palacín, J. C. Alonso, B. Milá. 2013. A link between historical population decline in the threatened great bustard and human expansion in Iberia: evidence from genetic and demographic data. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 110(3):518-527.


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