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African Grey Subspecies Identification

African grey par­rots (Psit­ta­cus eritha­cus) occupy the for­ests of cen­tral and West Africa.  The two known sub­species of African grey par­rots include P. e. erithacus, or the Congo African grey, and P. e. timneh, or the Timneh African grey, each with its own varying range.  The Congo grey in­hab­its a range ex­tend­ing from Kenya to the east­ern bor­der of the Ivory Coast and the Timneh grey has a range from the east­ern bor­der of Ivory Coast to Guinea-Bis­sau.  The habi­tat of African grey par­rots is usu­ally moist low­land forests, ­though they have been found up to 2200m in the east­ern parts of the range. They are com­monly ob­served at for­est edges, clear­ings, man­groves, wooded sa­van­nahs, cul­ti­vated areas, and gar­dens. African grey par­rots often visit open land ad­ja­cent to wood­lands, where they roost in trees over water, sometimes roost­ing on is­lands in rivers.  These par­rots excavate their nests in tree hollows, some­times choos­ing lo­ca­tions aban­doned by birds like wood­peck­ers.  In West Africa, the species makes sea­sonal move­ments out of the dri­est parts of the range in the dry sea­son.

Analysis of DNA can be a useful tool when determining the subspecies to which an individual belongs.  This includes identifying the source species for a resulting hybrid.  In this activity, you will simulate a test that illustrates how differences in DNA sequence between two subspecies can help determine their identity.


African Grey Parrot  (pdf file) 

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