Minisatellite DNA profiling detects lineages and parentage in the endangered kakapo (Strigops habroptilus) despite low microsatellite DNA variation
An important goal of the conservationmanagement program of the critically endangeredground parrot, the New Zealand kakapo (Strigops habroptilus) is the determination ofparentage and levels of genetic diversitywithin the remaining population. Our previousmicrosatellite DNA studies have shown that allindividuals of this species except one arehomozygous at seven loci examined. Incontrast, we now show that a minisatellite DNAanalysis of kakapo provides sufficientvariation to conduct paternity analyses anddetect heterogeneity within the 86 livingkakapo. The sole remaining Fiordland kakapo,Richard Henry, is shown to be geneticallydivergent from individuals originating from theonly other remaining population on StewartIsland, suggesting that two lineages of kakapoare present in the extant population. This hasparticular significance for the conservationmanagement goal of maintenance of the maximumgenetic diversity in the species as a whole. The example of the kakapo illustrates thatminisatellite DNA markers can be useful incases where microsatellite DNA fails to showsufficient variation.