The ability to successfully colonize and persist in diverse environments likely requires broad morphological and behavioral plasticity and adaptability, and this may partly explain why the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) exhibits a large range of morphological characteristics across their global distribution. Regional and local differences within Peregrine Falcons were sufficiently variable that ∼75 subspecies have been described; many were subsumed, and currently 19 are generally recognized. We used sequence information from the control region of the mitochondrial genome to test for concordance between genetic structure and representatives of 12 current subspecies and from two areas where subspecies distributions overlap. Haplotypes were broadly shared among subspecies, and all geographic locales shared a widely distributed common haplotype (FalconCR2). Haplotypes were distributed in a star-like phylogeny, consistent with rapid expansion of a recently derived species, with observed genetic patterns congruent with incomplete lineage sorting and/or differential rates of evolution on morphology and neutral genetic characters. Hierarchical analyses of molecular variance did not uncover genetic partitioning at the continental level, despite strong population-level structure (FST = 0.228). Similar analyses found weak partitioning, albeit significant, among subspecies (FCT = 0.138). All reconstructions placed the hierofalcons' (Gyrfalcon [F. rusticolus] and Saker Falcon [F. cherrug]) haplotypes in a well-supported clade either basal or unresolved with respect to the Peregrine Falcon. In addition, haplotypes representing Taita Falcon (F. fasciinucha) were placed within the Peregrine Falcon clade.
Vol. 130 • No. 1
Vol. 130 • No. 1