Program Meeting – “Great Horned Owl Diversity in the Americas and Kansas,” by Emily Ostrow
April 19, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pmFree
Great Horned Owls are morphologically diverse throughout their range in both color and size. Recent studies have shown however that little genetic differences occur within North American owls despite nine recognized subspecies in North America. Like many species of birds such as Northern Flickers, there is a transition zone between different populations of Great Horned owls in western Kansas. The population in the eastern United States is a darker, reddish bird, while the population in western Kansas and eastern Colorado is a sandy-colored bird. Great Horned Owls exhibit a wide transition zone of coloration in Kansas. These owls are not the only organisms experiencing this transition zone. Owls host many parasites such as chewing lice. Chewing lice are often removed from feathers visually by owls and this means that lice commonly mimic the colors of the birds they live on. The populations of lice on owls are highly affected by how their hosts move and what color they are. Through a combination of coloration and genetic information, I will be sharing how owls and their lice evolve together throughout Kansas.
Emily Ostrow is a PhD candidate at the University of Kansas