Genetic diversity in captive and wild Matschie's tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschiei) from Huon Peninsula, Papua New Guinea, based on mtDNA control region sequences

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The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Matschie's tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschiei) population is at a critical point for assessing long-term viability. This population, established from 19 genetically uncharacterized D. matschiei, has endured a founder effect because only four individuals contributed the majority of offspring. The highly variable mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region was sequenced for five of the female-founders by examining extant representatives of their maternal lineage and compared with wild (n=13) and captive (n=18) D. matschiei from Papua New Guinea (PNG). AZA female-founder D. matschiei control region haplotype diversity was low, compared with captive D. matschiei held in PNG. AZA D. matschiei have only two control region haplotypes because four out of five AZA female-founder D. matschiei had an identical sequence. Both AZA haplotypes were identified among the 17 wild and captive D. matschiei haplotypes from PNG. Genomic DNA extracted from wild D. matschiei fecal samples was a reliable source of mtDNA that could be used for a larger scale study. We recommend a nuclear DNA genetic analysis to more fully characterize AZA D. matschiei genetic diversity and to assist their Species Survival Plans®. An improved understanding of D. matschiei genetics will contribute substantially to the conservation of these unique animals both in captivity and the wild. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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Zoo Biology