Genetic Analysis of Mallee Emu-wrens Part 1

  • Clarke, Rohan (Primary Chief Investigator (PCI))
  • Mitchell, William Francis, (Chief Investigator (CI))

Project: Research

Project Description

Historic and current genetic structure in the global population of an endangered bird.
Existing sub-populations of Mallee Emu-wren exhibit low-medium levels of genetic diversity, evidence of bottlenecks, and genetic drift (Brown et al. 2013). Minimal genetic connectivity has been maintained throughout Hattah-Kulkyne and Murray Sunset National Parks through movement of Mallee Emu-wrens across temporally and spatially shifting habitat (Brown et al. 2013). Using genetic material collected during the translocation of 78 Mallee Emu-wrens from Hattah-Kulkyne and Murray Sunset National Parks I aim to determine:
1. What level of genetic diversity exists within the global Mallee Emu-wren population? Is there evidence of gene flow, genetic drift, inbreeding, bottlenecks, or sub-population differentiation? How has diversity changed in the ten years since genetic structure of Mallee Emu-wrens was last investigated?
2. Using historic Mallee Emu-wen tissue, what was lost with the extirpation of the species from Ngarkat CP? Can it be reconstituted from other sources?
3. What level of genetic diversity exists in the Wyperfeld National Park Mallee Emu-wren population? Does this population differ from other populations, given that it comprises structurally different habitat, and is it a potential source of diversity for translocated populations in Ngarkat CP?
4. Are Mallee Emu-wrens in the inbreeding ‘danger zone’? How does diversity in the current population compare with that of historic samples or the closely related Rufous-crowned Emu-wren?
5. Is there evidence of inbreeding in translocated individuals? This is particularly relevant to birds that died in transit. Lower fitness associated with inbreeding might result in lower stress thresholds.
6. Is there a relationship between kinship and partner fidelity post release in the reintroduced population in Ngarkat CP?
StatusActive
Effective start/end date5/01/195/01/20