Assessing the Usefulness of DNA Barcoding at Biological Field Stations
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DNA barcoding is an effective tool for discovering and documenting biodiversity and can also provide insights into species origins, and within species, evolutionary patterns. In animals, DNA barcoding involves using a 648 base-pair region of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome c oxidase 1 (CO1) to categorize and identify species. DNA barcoding using CO1 sequences has been effective in identifying bird species and, in some cases, distinct populations or subspecies. For my undergraduate thesis, I laid the groundwork for a DNA barcoding library for the bird species found at the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS), which is linked to a collection of identified and archived specimens. Bird collections provide a map of avian genetic diversity, reveal cryptic species, and can serve as a baseline for monitoring effects of anthropogenic and climatic changes on bird populations. Accessible resources such as DNA barcoding datasets and associated avian collections can increase the use and scientific prominence of field stations and their research and better position them to address environmental challenges. I evaluate the proposal that DNA barcoding of the bird species found at QUBS will provide information on the breeding population origin for migrants and on evolutionary affinities for both migrant and resident species where there is documented phylogeographic structure.