CHARACTERIZATION OF MOLECULAR GENETIC MARKERS IN SPHENISCUS BANDED PENGUINS FOR THE IDENTIFICATION OF A STRANDED JUVENILE INDIVIDUAL IN CENTRAL AMERICA
Keywords:genetic markers, penguins, species identification, Spheniscus, vagrant
Abstract. – In this study, the mitochondrial Cytochrome C Oxidase 1 gene, three nuclear microsatellite markers, and the MHC class II DRβ1 exon 2 were assessed for species-specific differences that would allow diagnostic identification of Spheniscus mendiculus, S. humboldti, and S. magellanicus specimens. Analyses of reference samples for these species revealed that genetic variation at these markers showed species-specific haplotypes and alleles that can provide positive evidence for species identification. Bayesian cluster analyses demonstrated high probability of assignment (>99%) for individual samples to their corresponding species. The set of nuclear and mitochondrial markers studied proved useful for the identification of a juvenile penguin stranded on the Pacific Ocean shores of El Salvador as a Magellanic penguin. The negative consequences of accidental captures of Magellanic penguins by fishermen and the relocation of wildlife through human intervention are discussed.