Two morphological types of brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) were introduced to New Zealand: smaller, grey possums from mainland southeastern Australia, and larger, black possums from Tasmania. Analysis of patterns of allozyme variation and allele frequencies of present-day possum populations in New Zealand and southeastern Australia indicates that populations comprised predominantly of black possums remain genetically similar to possums in Tasmania, whereas predominantly grey populations are genetically closer to Victorian and New South Wales possums.
Genetic variation in two translocated populations of North Island saddleback (Philesturnus rufusater) on Kapiti Island and at Zealandia was investigated using five microsatellite loci and compared with the source populations in the Hauraki Gulf. Although the absolute number of alleles in the two populations was low (3 alleles per locus), both populations carried all the alleles found in their immediate source populations, but lacked one rare allele found in only one individual from the original remnant population on Hen Island.
Genetic diversity allows a population to adapt genetically to a changing environment or to buffer it against stochastic events such as harsh weather or disease outbreaks. Genetic diversity is therefore an important consideration in the development of management strategies for threatened populations around the world, with the possible exception of New Zealand, where species recovery programmes tend to focus on increasing population size while neglecting the maintenance of genetic diversity.