CIE Spotlight: Three Molecular Markers Show No Evidence of Population Genetic Structure in the Gouldian Finch (Erythrura gouldiae)


Andrea W., Adam C. and Lee R.

Authors: Bolton, Peri E.; West, Andrea J.; Cardilini, Adam P. A.; Clark, Jennalee A.; Maute, Kimberley L.; Legge, Sarah; Brazill-Boast, James; Griffith, Simon C.; Rollins, Lee A.

Source: PLOS ONE, 11 (12), DEC 9 2016

Brief summary of the paper: Assessment of genetic diversity and connectivity between regions can inform conservation managers about risk of inbreeding, potential for adaptation and where population boundaries lie. The Gouldian finch (Erythrura gouldiae) is a threatened species in northern Australia, occupying the savannah woodlands of the biogeographically complex monsoon tropics.

We present the most comprehensive population genetic analysis of diversity and structure the Gouldian finch using 16 microsatellite markers, mitochondrial control region and 3,389 SNPs from genotyping-by-sequencing. Mitochondrial diversity is compared across three related, co-distributed finches with different conservation threat-statuses.

There was no evidence of genetic differentiation across the western part of the range in any of the molecular markers, and haplotype diversity but not richness was lower than a common co-distributed species. Individuals within the panmictic population in the west may be highly dispersive within this wide area, and we urge caution when interpreting anecdotal observations of changes to the distribution and/or flock sizes of Gouldian finch populations as evidence of overall changes to the population size of this species.