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The utility of existing passerine microsatellite markers for genetic studies in endangered species: as demonstrated for a critically endangered forest bird endemic to Réunion Island, the Réunion cuckooshrike (Coracina newtoni)


Genetic data are increasingly recognized for their utility in conservation programs. However, many endangered species belong to families that have been understudied. Due to the urgency of their conservation status it is important to quickly identify polymorphic microsatellite loci from available resources. We show for the Réunion Cuckoo shrike Coracina newtoni, that this strategy can be very useful. Using 110 passerine microsatellite primer sets we identified eighteen polymorphic loci and tested them in 25 C. newtoni individuals. Following a Bonferroni correction one pair of loci displayed linkage disequilibrium (P-value < 0.0001).

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We would like to acknowledge Jean Francois Centon and Jery Larose, for identifying the nests, Magalie Thierry, Hélène Delatte, Anthony Bouetard and Thierry Joët for their help and advices during the lab work, and the Centre International de Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD) of St Pierre de La Réunion for allowing our work in their laboratory. This work is part of the C. newtoni’s conservation and research program managed by the “Société d’Etude Orhnithologique de la Réunion” (SEOR) which was founded by the French “Ministère de l’Ecologie et du Developpement Durable” and European Fund for Regional Development (FEDER). The SEOR’s work in the “Réserve Naturelle de la Roche Ecrite” is also supported the “Département Réunion”.

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Correspondence to Jordi Salmona.

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Supplementary Table 1:

Microsatellites assessed for cross amplification in Coracina newtoni, fluorescent label, selection process, and size range observed. Microsatellites selection process: 1= amplification observed on agarose gel close to the expected size; 2= amplification observed on ABI genotyper close to the expected size; 3= tested for polymorphism on 6 unrelated individuals; 4= tested on 25 individuals. NL= primer set not labeled; Y= yes; N=no; W= weak; NT= not tested; negative answers for the third, fourth and fifth selection steps or represented as empty boxes in order to highlight the selected loci. For more information concerning microsatellites (primers, cross amplification abilities, etc) see Deborah Dawson’s cross utility data base at the Molecular Ecology Laboratory of the University of Sheffield ( (XLS 40 kb)

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Salmona, J., Dawson, D.A., Fouillot, D. et al. The utility of existing passerine microsatellite markers for genetic studies in endangered species: as demonstrated for a critically endangered forest bird endemic to Réunion Island, the Réunion cuckooshrike (Coracina newtoni). Conservation Genet Resour 2 (Suppl 1), 361–364 (2010).

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  • Campephagidae
  • Coracina newtoni
  • Cross-species utility
  • Cuckoo shrike
  • Microsatellite
  • Passerine