Prize-winning short video looks at genetic dangers after drastic falls in bird populations video

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Dr Helen Taylor's prize-winning three minute video looks at how bird species can be sucked into a downward spiral after drastic falls in population. She wants to know how reduced genetic diversity and more inbreeding in a much smaller population leads to poor egg hatching.

How hard is it to bring New Zealand bird populations back from the brink of extinction?

A prize-winning three-minute video looks at the genetic perils confronted in trying to rescue species after drastic population reductions.

"Unfortunately, New Zealand is an excellent place to study population bottlenecks and inbreeding, as so many of the country's unique native species have been decimated by introduced mammalian predators and habitat loss," Otago University researcher Dr Helen Taylor says.

Dr Helen Taylor's prize-winning short-video explains some of the genetic challenges in saving bird species.
DR HELEN TAYLOR

Dr Helen Taylor's prize-winning short-video explains some of the genetic challenges in saving bird species.

"My research explores the link between bottlenecks, inbreeding and reduced reproductive success in birds. 

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"We know inbreeding is linked to poor egg hatching success in many bird species, but it's not known whether this is due to poor male fertility or other issues," she said.

"To find out what's causing the problem, I am measuring bird sperm quality and relating it back to genetic diversity and inbreeding."

Her short video has just won both New Zealand sections of an 180 Seconds of Science video competition for early and mid career researchers in this country and Australia.

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 - Stuff

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