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

Technical Report HCSU-063
By: , and 

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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.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Title Evidence of low genetic variation and rare alleles in a bottlenecked endangered island endemic, the Lasan Teal (Anas laysanensis)
Series title Technical Report
Series number HCSU-063
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher University of Hawaii at Hilo
Publisher location Hilo, HI
Contributing office(s) Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center
Description Report: ii, 14 p.
First page 1
Last page 14
Country United States
State Hawaii
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N