Koala Conservation in Queensland, Australia: A Role for Assisted Gene Flow for Genetic Rescue?
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The koala is an iconic Australian marsupial that is facing declining populations through habitat loss, disease and predation. Genetic diversity is expected to decline in small, isolated populations, and this is already evident in some restricted koala populations. Gene flow among patches is essential to maintain genetic diversity, and while this can be achieved through habitat connectivity and reduction of threats, a more active approach of assisted gene flow can be considered. Here, the koala population is evaluated for its readiness to undergo purposeful movement of koalas in the processes of genetic rescue and genetic restoration. There is limited data on the fitness consequences of low genetic diversity or hybridisation in koalas, and no known adaptive alleles. However, the adaptability of the koala to captive conditions might assist a living genome bank approach.
KeywordsGenetic rescue Genetic restoration Inbreeding Koala Living genome bank Metapopulation
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