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Augmenting the conservation value of rehabilitated wildlife by integrating genetics and population modeling in the post-rehabilitation decision process

Pacioni, C., Rafferty, C., Morley, K., Stevenson, S.F., Chapman, A., Wickins, M., Verney, T., Deegan, G., Trocini, S. and Spencer, P.B.S.ORCID: 0000-0002-4938-2615 (2017) Augmenting the conservation value of rehabilitated wildlife by integrating genetics and population modeling in the post-rehabilitation decision process. Current Zoology, 64 (5). pp. 593-601.

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Link to Published Version: https://doi.org/10.1093/cz/zox065
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Abstract

Insular populations are particularly vulnerable to the effects of stochastic events, epidemics, and loss of genetic diversity due to inbreeding and genetic drift. The development of successful management options will require accurate baseline data, establishment of clear objectives, and finally monitoring and implementation of corrective measures, if and when required. This study assessed management options for the genetic rehabilitation of highly inbred woylies obtained from wildlife rehabilitation centers. The study generated genetic data for the woylie Bettongia penicillata from a conservation reserve and calculated measures of genetic diversity and individual relatedness. These data were fed into a population viability analysis (PVA) to test genetic outcomes in relation to different management actions. We demonstrated that a careful selection of the founder cohort produced a population with an expected heterozygosity of ∼70% for a window of approximately 10 years. A proposal to increase the size of the reserve available to the colony was shown to almost double the time at which the colony would retain heterozygosity levels of ≥ 70%. Additionally, developing a regular program of supplementation of unrelated woylies would result in a further improvement in their genetic value. This study demonstrated how the application of molecular techniques in combination with PVA can be beneficial for the management of rehabilitated wildlife otherwise considered of little conservation value. This approach can be applied to the management of breeding programs, but also to small, closed populations such as those found on islands, fenced enclosures, insurance populations, and in zoological collections.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Copyright: © The Author 2017
United Nations SDGs: Goal 15: Life on Land
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/42464
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