Banded hare-wallaby conservation genomics

Conservation genomic assessment of wild and reintroduced populations of the banded hare- wallaby

Originally hypothesised to be the last remaining species of the extinct short-faced kangaroos (family Sthenurinae; Flannery, 1983), recent molecular evidence has confirmed that Lagostrophus fasciatus (banded hare-wallaby) is in fact the sole remaining representative of a third lineage of macropodids, the subfamily Lagostrophinae. The species was once widely distributed across southwestern Western Australia and extending into South Australia but is now naturally restricted to only two islands in the Shark Bay region of Western Australia. Two sub-species have been previously recognised: L. f. fasciatus (southwest WA; listed as Vulnerable) and L. f. baudinettei (South Australia/Victoria; Extinct).

Previous genetic research has revealed low genetic diversity in island populations of the banded hare-wallaby. It is unclear if the low diversity detected is a feature of the markers (which were originally isolated in other macropodid species) or of the remnant island populations. We will use genomic methods to provide more robust estimates of population genetic parameters to inform future conservation management for the species.

We are using a marsupial targeted exon capture array to assess historical genetic diversity across the taxon. In addition, we are using ddRAD sequencing to undertake a conservation genetic assessment of all natural and reintroduced populations of the banded hare-wallaby.

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