New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2011) 35(3): 220- 228

Genetic diversity and population viability in translocated North Island saddleback (Philesturnus rufusater) populations at Zealandia Karori Sanctuary and Kapiti Island

Research Article
Sylvia P. Ruarus 1,*
Sebastien Rioux Paquette 1
Katrina Hale 2
Peter A. Ritchie 1
  1. School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140, New Zealand
  2. School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

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. Overall heterozygosity was high and inbreeding coefficients were low. Population viability analyses showed that these populations will likely reach carrying capacity by the middle of this decade, and genetic simulations predicted that they should retain between 90% (Kapiti) and 95% (Zealandia) of the heterozygosity of their sources. The difference between the two populations is most likely due to the prolonged post-translocation bottleneck on Kapiti when rats were still present on the island. While our results suggest that additional top-up translocations would be unnecessary and unwarranted at this time, further work on potentially selected loci or inbreeding depression could justify this decision to be revisited.