Using PVA and captive breeding to balance trade-offs in the rescue of the island dibbler onto a new island ark

Zahra Aisya, Daniel J. White, Rujiporn Thavornkanlapachai, J. Anthony Friend, Kate Rick, Nicola J. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In the face of the current global extinction crisis, it is critical we give conservation management strategies the best chance of success. Australia is not exempt from global trends with currently the world’s greatest mammal extinction rate (~ 1 per 8 years). Many more are threatened including the dibbler (Parantechinus apicalis) whose remnant range has been restricted to Western Australia at just one mainland site and two small offshore islands—Whitlock Island (5 ha) and Boullanger Island (35 ha). Here, we used 14 microsatellite markers to quantify genetic variation in the remaining island populations from 2013 to 2018 and incorporated these data into population viability analysis (PVA) models, used to assess factors important to dibbler survival and to provide guidance for translocations. Remnant population genetic diversity was low (< 0.3), and populations were highly divergent from each other (pairwise FSTs 0.29–0.52). Comparison of empirical data to an earlier study is consistent with recent declines in genetic diversity and models projected increasing extinction risk and declining genetic variation in the next century. Optimal translocation scenarios recommend 80 founders for new dibbler populations—provided by captive breeding—and determined the proportion of founders from parental populations to maximise genetic diversity and minimise harvesting impact. The goal of our approach is long-term survival of genetically diverse, self-sustaining populations and our methods are transferable. We consider mixing island with mainland dibblers to reinforce genetic variation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11913
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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