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Genetic variation and population structure of the endangered Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus): implications for conservation

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Biblioteca Digital da Produção Intelectual da Universidade de São Paulo (BDPI/USP)
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Abstract

The Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) is one of 14 endangered species in the family Psittacidae occurring in Brazil, with an estimated total population of 6,500 specimens. We used nuclear molecular markers (single locus minisatellites and microsatellites) and 472 bp of the mitochondrial DNA control region to characterize levels of genetic variability in this species and to assess the degree of gene flow among three nesting sites in Brazil (Pantanal do Abobral, Pantanal de Miranda and Piaui). The origin of five apprehended specimens was also investigated. The results suggest that, in comparison to other species of parrots, Hyacinth Macaws possess relatively lower genetic variation and that individuals from two different localities within the Pantanal (Abobral and Miranda) belong to a unique interbreeding population and are genetically distinct at nuclear level from birds from the state of Piaui. The analyses of the five apprehended birds suggest that the Pantanal is not the source of birds for illegal trade, but their precise origin could not be assigned. The low genetic variability detected in the Hyacinth Macaw does not seem to pose a threat to the survival of this species. Nevertheless, habitat destruction and nest poaching are the most important factors negatively affecting their populations in the wild. The observed genetic structure emphasizes the need of protection of Hyacinth Macaws from different regions in order to maintain the genetic diversity of this species.

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