Conservation Genetics

, 9:547 | Cite as

Microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA variation defines island genetic reservoirs for reintroductions of an endangered Australian marsupial, Perameles bougainville

  • Steve Smith
  • Jane Hughes
Research Article


Natural populations of the endangered western barred bandicoot (Perameles bougainville) now exist on only two islands in Shark Bay, Western Australia. Our aim was to investigate genetic diversity in natural, reintroduced, and captive populations of the bandicoots and to assess the extent of divergence between the populations. The contemporary isolation of the natural populations has resulted in heterogeneity of allele frequency between the islands, which has acted to maintain a higher combined diversity than would be expected from either population on its own. These findings highlight how remnant island populations can act as genetic reservoirs to maximize diversity for reintroductions into a species former range. Although diversity is high between island populations, diversity within populations, based on six microsatellite loci, are amongst the lowest ever recorded for populations of marsupials. The mtDNA sequence data indicate that the two remaining natural populations show only minor divergence from each other, with the five haplotypes separated by just single base pairs. The reintroduced population and captive colonies show evidence for the loss of diversity related to genetic drift operating on small isolated populations.


Perameles bougainville Genetic diversity Microsatellites mtDNA Reintroduction Captive breeding 



Our thanks go to Neil Thomas and Nicole Noakes from the Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation; Jacqui Richards from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy; and Mark Bennett and Lucy Woolford from Murdoch University for supplying samples and background information for this study. Tony Friend from the Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation provided many useful suggestions for the design of the project and provided many of the samples from the captive colony he initiated at Dryandra. Many thanks also to Jeff Short for helpful comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Riverine Landscapes, Molecular Ecology Lab, Faculty of Environmental SciencesGriffith UniversityNathanAustralia

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