Cart Is Empty
In issue 309 -
When an Older Parrot Has Never Learned Skilful Flight – Complete Psittacine by Eb Cravens
In issue 309 -
Scarlet Macaws – were they really bred by indigenous people in the 12th century? Rosemary Low asks the question
In issue 309 -
Understanding the link between nutrition, hormonal behaviours and the avian endocrine system, Part 1 – The Holistic Parrot by Leslie Moran
In issue 309 -
The Yellow-eared Parrot – continues to expand its range in Colombia. By David Waugh, Correspondent, Loro Parque Fundación
Subscribe To Parrots Magazine - Don't miss a thing
Home eMag subs image

New e-Magazine Subscriptions

How would you like to get your Parrots magazine subscription delivered straight into your inbox. We are providing a new service to do just that. Visit our e-Mags Subscriptions page to register now.


 The October 2023 edition of Parrots magazine (issue 309) will be available to download from 13th September via a link which will be emailed to subscribers. Single copies will be available from our online shop. You can save money by subscribing – find out more here.

How the Kakapo survived centuries of inbreeding

Spreads for web Parrots 278 4

by Devorah Bennu, PhD aka “GrrlScientist”

Analysis of entire genomes from New Zealand’s critically endangered, flightless parrots found they carry exceptionally few harmful genetic mutations despite 10,000 years of inbreeding. How did they manage this?

The first ever genomic analysis of the critically endangered Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus) has revealed the flightless parrots carry surprisingly few harmful genetic mutations, despite the fact that the species has inbred for many centuries. This is contrary to what is typically seen for inbreeding. Basically, when there are very few breeding adults remaining in a small population, one of two genetic outcomes will occur: either harmful mutations accumulate randomly throughout the genome or, alternatively, harmful mutations may decrease due to genetic purging. Of these two scenarios, the accumulation of harmful mutations is the most likely – unless you are a Kakapo, apparently.

In 1995, the Kakapo population reached its lowest point when just 51 of these charismatic moss-green parrots were still alive in the world: 50 were sequestered on tiny Stewart Island, located south of New Zealand’s South Island, and a single male, named Richard Henry, was the last living individual on New Zealand’s mainland. Due to the diminutive size of this remnant population, scientists predicted that Kakapo were severely inbred, and they also predicted that this situation would probably impair conservation efforts to save this species. Inbreeding is typically the recipe for a ‘mutational meltdown’, a situation that rapidly leads to extinction due to an accumulation of excess of harmful mutations.

Buy Now!




Invalid Name
Invalid email address
Please identify how you found us
Invalid Input

Subscribe Now!

Subscribe to parrots magazine

subscribe today. The best most widely read magazine for parrot lovers.


Our Address

Parrots magazine is published by
Imax Visual Ltd, West Building,
Elm Grove Lane, Steyning BN44 3SA

Telephone +44 (0)1273 464777
© Parrots magazine 2023