This research is part of a continuing programme on the Molecular Ecology of New Zealand wildlife species. Current studies involve the use of a range of genetic markers to solve ecological and evolutionary problems posed by New Zealand's unique species. Current studies include: mitochondrial DNA sequence variation in the kiore rat to trace human movements in the Pacific; parentage in tawaki (fiordland crested penguins), toutouwai (robins) and skuas; the effects of population bottlenecks on the endangered Chatham Island black robin and the tieke (saddleback); and DNA methods for sex assignment in avian species. A number of programs involving Antarctic species such as Adélie penguins and polar skuas are also ongoing.
Kinship and genetic divergence among populations of tuatara Sphenodon punctatus as revealed by minisatellite DNA profiling
Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
Volume 5, Issue 5, pages 651–658, October 1996
How to Cite
FINCH, M. O. and LAMBERT, D. M. (1996), Kinship and genetic divergence among populations of tuatara Sphenodon punctatus as revealed by minisatellite DNA profiling. Molecular Ecology, 5: 651–658. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.1996.tb00360.x
- Issue published online: 28 JUN 2008
- Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
- Received 13 November 1995 revised 23 April 1996
- minisatellite DNA;
- evolutionary genetics
Tuatara represent the last surviving member of the order Rhynchocephalia, a group of reptiles the members of which first appeared in the fossil record 200 million years ago. We report the existence of extensive minisatellite DNA variation in island populations of tuatara, as revealed by the use of heterologous DNA probes and compare this variation to that found in other vertebrates. Patterns of minisatellite variation within and among populations of tuatara on the Taranga and Marotere Islands off the coast of New Zealand are detailed. Individuals from West Bay and South Cove on Motumuka Island show higher levels of bandsharing than that recorded between randomly sampled individuals from the same island. We suggest that these populations comprise a proportion of closely related individuals and that populations within islands are genetically structured. Moreover, we identified individuals which have high levels of bandsharing with substantial proportions of the sampled population, suggesting close kinship. A pairwise, inter-island comparison of individuals from Motumuka, Whatupuke and Mauimua Islands, reveals significant differences in distribution of restriction fragments in minisatellite DNA profiles.