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Ancient DNA isolated from bird fossils provides insights into evolutionary processes in island ecosystems

Bunce, M. (2007) Ancient DNA isolated from bird fossils provides insights into evolutionary processes in island ecosystems. In: Fourth Biennial Australasian Ornithological Conference, 3 - 5 December, Perth, Western Australia.

Abstract

DNA is a stable and abundant molecule that can persevere in the environment for thousands of years post mortem. The amplification and sequencing of DNA from “old” fossil and museum samples can provide valuable insights into past biodiversity, extinctions, taxonomy molecular evolution and conservation.

Prior to human settlement 700 years ago New Zealand had no terrestrial mammals — apart from three species of bats - instead approximately 250 avian species dominated the ecosystem half of which are now extinct. This presentation will discuss two of the major players in the pre-human ecosystem; the Moa (a member of the ratite group of birds) and the giant NZ eagle. DNA isolated from fossils has helped clarify both the taxonomy and evolution of these birds and further demonstrates the remarkable evolutionary processes that occur within island ecosystems.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/18966
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