The genetic rescue of two bottlenecked south island robin populations using translocations of inbred donors

S. Heber, A. Varsani, S. Kuhn, A. Girg, B. Kempenaers, J. Briskie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Populations forced through bottlenecks typically lose genetic variation and exhibit inbreeding depression. 'Genetic rescue' techniques that introduce individuals from outbred populations can be highly effective in reversing the deleterious effects of inbreeding, but have limited application for the majority of endangered species, which survive only in a few bottlenecked populations. We tested the effectiveness of using highly inbred populations as donors to rescue two isolated and bottlenecked populations of the South Island robin (Petroica australis). Reciprocal translocations significantly increased heterozygosity and allelic diversity. Increased genetic diversity was accompanied by increased juvenile survival and recruitment, sperm quality, and immunocompetence of hybrid individuals (crosses between the two populations) compared with inbred control individuals (crosses within each population). Our results confirm that the implementation of 'genetic rescue' using bottlenecked populations as donors provides a way of preserving endangered species and restoring their viability when outbred donor populations no longer exist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20123070
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1752
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Fitness
  • Genetic diversity
  • Genetic rescue
  • Inbreeding
  • Population bottlenecks
  • Translocations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'The genetic rescue of two bottlenecked south island robin populations using translocations of inbred donors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this