Scientists in the Field
Spiral Notebook
Kakapo Rescue Continues
by Lily Kessinger
April 5, 2016
 
Kakapo Rescue Continues
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“Imagine shaking the trunk of a sapling and finding giant parrots falling to the ground like apples! That’s how common kakapo once were in New Zealand”—Sy Montgomery sets the scene for a dramatic and ongoing recovery effort to save a species in danger of extinction in Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot with photographs by Nic Bishop.

When the book was published in 2010, the kakapo population was at a new high of ninety-one. Fast-forward six years of hard work from the dedicated kakapo recovery program, and the population is at 125. Not only that, but the peculiar parrots will have their genomes sequenced. And according to an article from BBC news, “it’s the first time that genome sequencing of a whole population of one animal has taken place.” But what does this mean for conservation efforts?

While kakapo can live to at least seventy years (and often to 100 and beyond), Sy Montgomery explains in Kakapo Rescue that the breeding process can be hit or miss and that some mating seasons pass without any new hatchlings. But the BBC article illuminates the potential benefits of the genome sequencing: “scientists say analyzing the data will help them to save the kakapo from extinction by providing information on fertility and susceptibility to disease.”

Hopefully, the data will serve the kakapo population—and the people who study and protect them—well. You can read the BBC article here and make sure to check out the kakapo recovery program website here.

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