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An assessment of the genetic structure of an urban Cooper's hawk population


August 2015 - September 2019


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been coordinating a study of the population ecology of an urban population of Cooper’s hawks (Accipiter cooperii) in Albuquerque, New Mexico since 2011, in collaboration with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and New Mexico State University. A major objective of the study is to develop a detailed understanding of the demography and population ecology of a model raptor population to obtain insights into the population ecology of harder to study species of management concern, such as golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos). We now have rigorous empirical estimates of the number of occupied Cooper’s hawk nesting territories, reproductive success, survival rates, female dispersal, and spatially explicit estimates of prey density for each year of the study. We propose to undertake an analysis of genetic material and stable isotopes of feathers from the Albuquerque Cooper’s hawk study population to gain additional insights into their mating system, behavioral ecology, and population genetic structure. Important questions these analyses may help answer are: (1) what factors are associated with high rates of extra-pair paternity in Cooper’s hawks, and how those factors might affect individual fitness and population growth; (2) what is the frequency and potential source of immigrants into the Albuquerque study population; and (3) what is the phylogeographic relationship of this Cooper’s hawk population to others that have been genetically sampled. In addition, this study presents a valuable opportunity to compare and contrast genetic estimates of population attributes (e.g., estimates of paternity certainty and of effective population size) with direct measures obtained through banding and radio telemetry.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 101

Masters Students: 239

Phd Students: 154

Post Docs: 55

University Staff: 241

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 695

Scientific Publications: 1962

Presentations: 4417



  • James CainCo-Principal Investigator
  • Gary RoemerPrincipal Investigator

Funding Agencies

  • US Fish and Wildlife Service


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey