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DNA research flies high with Seychelles kestrel

01.06.2004


A new research project at the University of Kent is looking for genetic evidence of a historical population bottleneck in the Seychelles kestrel by analysing DNA extracted from museum specimens estimated to be 100-150 years old.



Dr Jim Groombridge, Lecturer in Biodiversity Conservation at the University’s Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, has been awarded £14,600 funding from The Royal Society to conduct population genetic research on oceanic island birds.

Museum collections throughout the UK, Europe and the US are contributing samples for DNA analysis from their preserved kestrel specimens, which were collected on the Seychelles by early Victorian naturalists. The aim is to interpret temporal changes in genetic variation in the Seychelles population alongside historical records of population size, to help improve our understanding of genetic bottlenecks in conservation biology.


Previous genetic work carried out on island kestrels in Mauritius and a broader survey of current genetic diversity in other kestrels shows that today’s Seychelles population is as genetically impoverished as the Mauritius kestrel, whose population has been successfully recovered from a single breeding pair in 1974. However, no such dramatic population history has been recorded on the Seychelles.

Karen Baxter | alfa
Further information:
http://www.kent.ac.uk/news/news.php?id=seychelleskestrel.txt

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