Conservation genetics of the Bush Stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius)
The Bush Stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius), a ground-dwelling woodland bird, is endemic to Australia and has a wide distribution throughout eastern Australia, where it is speculated to exist as a number of sub-species. Curlew numbers have dramatically declined in abundance in Southeastern Australia due to fox predation and habitat clearance. It is now listed as Endangered in New South Wales and Victoria, and Vulnerable in South Australia. To avoid extinctions of the southern populations (due to small population size, inbreeding and genetic diversity erosion) certain management activities could be necessary. Southern populations could be supplemented either by translocating birds from northern Australia, where the species is still relatively abundant, or through captive breeding. Concern over maintaining the genetic provenance of sub-species, should they exist, has led to this investigation of genetic boundaries. This has implications if decisions are made to translocate individuals from northern to southern populations or to select candidates for captive breeding programs. To this end, microsatellite loci have been developed and genotyped in individuals from across the geographic range of the Bush-stone curlew. Results, including population genetics and the sub-species question, will be discussed.