UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of Two Endangered Neotropical Parrots Inform In Situ and Ex Situ Conservation Strategies Campos, Carlos I.; Martinez, Melinda A.; Acosta, Daniel; Diaz-Luque, Jose A.; Berkunsky, Igor; Lamberski, Nadine L.; Cruz-Nieto, Javier; Russello, Michael A.; Wright, Timothy F.


A key aspect in the conservation of endangered populations is understanding patterns of genetic variation and structure, which can provide managers with critical information to support evidence-based status assessments and management strategies. This is especially important for species with small wild and larger captive populations, as found in many endangered parrots. We used genotypic data to assess genetic variation and structure in wild and captive populations of two endangered parrots, the blue-throated macaw, Ara glaucogularis, of Bolivia, and the thick-billed parrot, Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha, of Mexico. In the blue-throated macaw, we found evidence of weak genetic differentiation between wild northern and southern subpopulations, and between wild and captive populations. In the thick-billed parrot we found no signal of differentiation between the Madera and Tutuaca breeding colonies or between wild and captive populations. Similar levels of genetic diversity were detected in the wild and captive populations of both species, with private alleles detected in captivity in both, and in the wild in the thick-billed parrot. We found genetic signatures of a bottleneck in the northern blue-throated macaw subpopulation, but no such signal was identified in any other subpopulation of either species. Our results suggest both species could potentially benefit from reintroduction of genetic variation found in captivity, and emphasize the need for genetic management of captive populations.

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