Captive populations of white-headed ducks Oxyura leucocephala have lower genetic diversity than wild populations

  • Published source details Muñoz-Fuentes V., Green A.J. & Sorenson M.D. (2008) Comparing the genetics of wild and captive populations of White-headed Ducks Oxyura leucocephala: consequences for recovery programmes. Ibis, 150, 807-815


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Can captive breeding have deleterious effects on individual fitness?

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Bird Conservation
  1. Can captive breeding have deleterious effects on individual fitness?

    A controlled 2008 study of genetic diversity in white-headed ducks Oxyura leucocephala (Muñoz-Fuentes et al. 2008) found that two captive-bred populations had significantly lower genetic diversity than wild birds from Greece and Spain. A total of 38 captive-bred birds were tested, (27 from a Spanish collection and 11 from a UK collection) and compared with 70 wild birds collected between 1993 and 2003 (63 from Spain, seven from Greece). The captive Spanish birds descended from eight wild birds caught in Spain in 1982, the UK birds from three wild birds caught in Pakistan in 1968. Both microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA were less diverse in captive populations. Effects on reproduction or survival were not monitored.


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