The population of the Mauritian pink pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri) fell to fewer than 20 individuals in the 1970s. Following intensive conservation efforts, the free-living population is now estimated to be 470 individuals. However, because of the population bottleneck the species remains at risk of extinction because of genetic loss and inbreeding depression. A European captive population was established in 1977 and a European Endangered Species Program (EEP) was formalized in 1992. As birds in the EEP captive population possess unique alleles not observed in the surviving free-living birds, the EEP management plan recommends transferring EEP birds to Mauritius to improve genetic diversity. Health screening of the current EEP population to identify circulating pathogens was performed. Forty-two birds from three collections in the United Kingdom and one in Jersey were screened for a wide range of pathogens, present clinically or subclinically, including important viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and helminths. Eleven birds tested positive for at least one pathogen: Trichomonas spp. (5), Yersinia kristensenii (2), Yersinia aleksiciae (1), coccidial oocysts (3), and strongyle ova (3). None of the positive birds showed overt signs of clinical disease, although two birds with Trichomonas spp. had suboptimal body condition. Genotyping of one Trichomonas gallinae sample revealed a type-C strain (low pathogenicity). The results from this screening will contribute towards a disease risk assessment, to create a pre-export protocol for translocation of captive EEP birds to Mauritius.
- AVIAN BLOOD PARASITES
- INBREEDING DEPRESSION