Gaps in Genetic Knowledge Affect Kiwi Conservation Efforts

Kiwi are iconic birds that have been severely impacted by deforestation and predation from invasive mammals since the arrival of humans in New Zealand. The remaining kiwi can be split into 14 clusters that are now treated as separate conservation management units. A review published in Ibis examines the latest information on kiwi genetics to investigate the legitimacy for maintaining these differences.

Although studies indicate that kiwi differ genetically between areas, there is little understanding of the extent of local adaptations and breeding changes on populations. The work highlights the need for a more detailed understanding of the genetics of different species for wildlife conservation.

“Using kiwi as an example, we hope to convey that results from any genetic studies cannot be easily translated into genetic management policy. On the contrary, studies using informative markers and strategic sample regimes are required if the goal is diverse and long-term successful populations,” said lead author Malin Undin, PhD, of Massey University, in New Zealand.

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