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Sensitive males: inbreeding depression in an endangered bird

Brekke, Patricia, Bennett, Peter M., Wang, Jinliang, Pettorelli, Nathalie, Ewen, John G. (2010) Sensitive males: inbreeding depression in an endangered bird. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 277 (1700). pp. 3677-3684. ISSN 0962-8452. (doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.1144) (KAR id:25474)


Attempts to conserve threatened species by establishing new populations via reintroduction are controversial. Theory predicts that genetic bottlenecks result in increased mating between relatives and inbreeding depression. However, few studies of wild sourced reintroductions have carefully examined these genetic consequences. Our study assesses inbreeding and inbreeding depression in a free-living reintroduced population of an endangered New Zealand bird, the hihi (Notiomystis cincta). Using molecular sexing and marker-based inbreeding coefficients estimated from 19 autosomal microsatellite loci, we show that (i) inbreeding depresses offspring survival, (ii) male embryos are more inbred on average than female embryos, (iii) the effect of inbreeding depression is male-biased and (iv) this population has a substantial genetic load. Male susceptibility to inbreeding during embryo and nestling development may be due to size dimorphism, resulting in faster growth rates and more stressful development for male embryos and nestlings compared with females. This work highlights the effects of inbreeding at early life-history stages and the repercussions for the long-term population viability of threatened species.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1098/rspb.2010.1144
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: Natural Environment Research Council (
Depositing User: Peter Bennett
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2010 13:25 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2022 10:40 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Bennett, Peter M..

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