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Evidence of low genetic variation and rare alleles in a bottlenecked endangered island endemic, the Laysan Teal (Anas laysanensis).

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Title:Evidence of low genetic variation and rare alleles in a bottlenecked endangered island endemic, the Laysan Teal (Anas laysanensis).
Authors:Reynolds, Michelle
Pearce, John
Lavretsky, Philip
Peters, Jeffery
Courtot, Karen
show 1 moreSeixas, Pedro
show less
Keywords:genetic diversity, alleles, translocation
Date Issued:04 Dec 2015
Series:Technical Report HCSU - 063
Abstract:Genetic diversity is assumed to reflect the evolutionary potential and adaptability of populations, and thus quantifying the genetic diversity of endangered species is useful for recovery programs. In particular, if conservation strategies include reintroductions, periodic genetic assessments are useful to evaluate whether management efforts have resulted in the maximization or loss of genetic variation within populations over generations. In this study, we collected blood, feather, and tissue samples during 1999–2009 and quantified genetic diversity for a critically endangered waterfowl species endemic to the Hawaiian archipelago, the Laysan
teal or duck (Anas laysanensis; n = 239 individual birds sampled). The last extant population of this species at Laysan Island was sourced in 2004–2005 for a ‘wild to wild’ translocation of 42 individuals for an experimental reintroduction to Midway Atoll. To inform future management strategies, we compared genetic diversity sampled from the source population (n = 133 Laysan birds) including 23 of Midway’s founders and offspring of the translocated population 2–5 years post release (n = 96 Midway birds). We attempted to identify polymorphic markers by screening nuclear microsatellite (N = 83) and intronic loci (N = 19), as well as the mitochondrial
control region (mtDNA) for a subset of samples. Among 83 microsatellite loci screened, six were variable. We found low nuclear variation consistent with the species’ historical population
bottlenecks and sequence variation was observed at a single intron locus. We detected no variation within the mtDNA. We found limited but similar estimates of allelic richness (2.58 alleles per locus) and heterozygosity within islands. Two rare alleles found in the Laysan Island source population were not present in the Midway translocated group, and a rare allele was discovered in an individual on Midway in 2008. We found similar genetic diversity and low, but statistically significant, levels of differentiation (0.6%) between island populations suggesting that genetic drift (as a result of translocation-induced population bottlenecking) has had a limited effect within five years post-release. Our results have utility for informing translocation
and genetic management decisions.
Appears in Collections: Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit (HCSU)

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