Genetic evaluation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Matschie's tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschiei) captive breeding program

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Matschie's tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschiei) is an endangered species that has been bred in captivity since the 1970s. In 1992, the Tree Kangaroo Species Survival Plan ® (TKSSP) was established to coordinate the captive management of Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) D. matschiei. The TKSSP makes annual breeding recommendations primarily based on the mean kinship (MK) strategy. Captive breeding programs often use the MK strategy to preserve genetic diversity in small populations-to avoid the negative consequences of inbreeding and retain their adaptive potential. The ability of a captive breeding program to retain the population's genetic diversity over time can be evaluated by comparing the genetic diversity of the captive population to wild populations. We analyzed DNA extracted from blood and fecal samples from AZA (n = 71), captive (n = 28), and wild (n = 22) D. matschiei using eight microsatellite markers and sequenced the partial mitochondrial DNA control region gene. AZA D. matschiei had a similar expected heterozygosity (H e = 0.595±0.184) compared with wild D. matschiei (H e = 0.628±0.143), but they had different allelic frequencies (F ST = 0.126; P<0.001). AZA D. matschiei haplotype diversity was almost two times lower than wild D. matschiei. These data will assist management of AZA D. matschiei and serve as a baseline for AZA and wild D. matschiei genetic diversity values that could be used to monitor future changes in their genetic diversity. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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Zoo Biology