The influence of captive breeding management on founder representation and inbreeding in the ‘Alalā, the Hawaiian crow

Philip W. Hedrick, Paquita E A Hoeck, Robert C. Fleischer, Susan Farabaugh, Bryce M. Masuda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The ‘Alalā (Corvus hawaiiensis), or the Hawaiian crow, was historically only found on the island of Hawai‘i, declined greatly in the twentieth century, and was last seen in the wild in 2002. A captive breeding program was initiated in the 1970s and 113 individuals were in captivity in 2014. All of the present day individuals are descended from nine founders. From pedigree analysis, 50 % of the initial ancestry was from a single founder pair and as of 2014, 45 % of the ancestry was still from this pair. Six other founders have also contributed substantially to the population and managed breeding has increased and evened out their contributions in recent years. Managed breeding has also kept the inbreeding level at the relatively low level of 0.120 in 2014. However, for most of the history of the population, all of the inbreeding was from the single founder pair and in 2014, 76 % of the inbreeding was still from this pair. As a result, the high inbreeding depression previously seen in this population appears to descend from this single pair. Breeding management to maximize founder genome equivalents, which takes into account loss of variation from genetic drift, could increase the genetic representation from the founders, particularly if ancestry from the single founder with only one living descendant is increased.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-378
Number of pages10
JournalConservation Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Ancestry
  • Genetic drift
  • Inbreeding
  • Inbreeding depression
  • Pedigree

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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