In the 1990s the spotted owl Strix occidentalis was catapulted into the spotlight over logging debates in the US Pacific Northwest. Despite federal protection beginning in 1990, the owl is still declining in the Northwest owing to habitat loss, fragmentation, and competition with barred owls .
In collaboration with a team led by Zach Hanna (UCSF), Jack Dumbacher (California Academy of Sciences), Michal Levy-Sakin (Dovetail Genomics), Rauri Bowie (UC Berkeley), Pui Kwok (UCSF) and Jeff Wall (UCSF), we are today happy to share a chromosome-length genome assembly for the spotted owl.
Below is our standard comparison between the newly assembled genome for the spotted own and the domestic chicken genome assembly (by the International Chicken Genome Sequencing Consortium). Though not quite as dramatic as those seen in the golden eagle, we do see a number of karyotypic rearrangements, including the breakage of chicken chr #1 (forming owl #6 and #2) and the fusion of chicken #4 and #5 (creating #3 in spotted owl).