Mariposa & Yosemite

September 23, 2010

Yosemite owls may be unique subspecies

Great gray owls in Yosemite National Park may be a unique subspecies, park officials said on Thursday.

Yosemite is home to approximately 150 great gray owls, estimated to be 65 percent of the great gray owl population in California. Research has shown that the Yosemite owls are genetically distinct from other great gray animals found in North America, Asia and Europe.

The Yosemite subspecies has been named Strix nebulosa yosemitensis.

In addition to genetic differences, scientists have observed behavioral differnces in the Yosemite subspecies, including distinct migration patterns, prey preference and nest site selection methods.

Park officials said in a press release that they hope future research will allow them to identify additional specific characteristics.

Yosemite is home to more than 400 species of animals, including 165 types of birds.

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