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Keywords:

  • onservation genetics;
  • evolutionary history;
  • inbreeding;
  • Perameles gunnii;
  • population structure;
  • VNTR loci

Abstract

The Eastern Barred Bandicoot Perameles gunnii has declined in abundance within mainland south-eastern Australia, to a relict wild population of less than 100 individuals in Hamilton, Victoria. It is more common, but is also declining in Tasmania. Genomic DN A variability was compared within and between surviving populations of P. gunnii using variable number of tandem repeat (VNTR) markers in one of two ways. First, average percentage differences (APDs) were determined between profiles for two VNTR probe—endonuclease combinations. Secondly, because one of these combinations revealed two multiallelic VNTR loci, genotypes were assigned and analysed for homogeneity of allele frequencies among subpopulations, for deviation of heterozygosity from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium within populations and for genetic structuring among individuals from different subpopulations. The results of both the APD and defined locus approaches showed consistent trends within and between populations. Genetic variability was higher among mainland P. gunnii than in Tasmanian populations (higher APDs, number of alleles, and heterozygosity at one locus), despite the known decline and subdivision of the Hamilton population. Eleven per cent of the variability detected in Hamilton was attributed to genetic differentiation between east and west subdivisions of the population. Departure from random mating indicating local inbreeding within collecting localities was evident for one locus in both north and south Tasmania, particularly at one locality. AH alleles at both loci were unique to either Hamilton or Tasmanian P. gunnii. The initial captive colony contains high heterozygosity for these loci. It is concluded that VNTR markers can be of benefit for use in studies of population differentiation and for conservation management.