Date: November 18, 2019
Source: Colorado State University
The endangered Hawaiian duck, or koloa, the only endemic duck remaining on the main Hawaiian Islands, is threatened with genetic extinction due to interbreeding with feral mallards. This has led to the creation of hybrid forms of the koloa. But new research has found that the genetic diversity of the koloa is high, and conservation efforts on the island of Kauai have been successful.
Caitlin Wells, a research scientist at Colorado State University, conducted the research as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Davis. This study is the culmination of two decades of research spearheaded by scientists from University of California, Davis; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; University of Texas, El Paso; Wright State University; Oregon State University; and the state of Hawaii's Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
The results from the study offer hope for existing conservation efforts with the koloa and other endangered birds around the world.
"Persistence of an endangered native duck, feral mallards, and multiple hybrid swarms across the main Hawaiian Islands," will be published Nov. 18 in Molecular Ecology, and Wells is the lead author.
A charismatic duck, located primarily on Kauai
Wells described the koloa as a "petite, buffy brown and charismatic duck," similar to a female mallard.
"The fact that the koloa on Kauai are pure and have a lot of genetic variation are two really positive things that came out of this study," said Wells.