Provenance of a New Zealand brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata) population determined by mitochondrial DNA sequence analysis

Mark D B Eldridge*, Teena L. Browning, Robert L. Close

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    Modern molecular genetic techniques provide a valuable means to address questions concerning the origins of naturalized populations. Brush-tailed rock-wallabies (Petrogale penicillata), of unknown provenance, were introduced to New Zealand from Australia in the early 1870s. While the introduced wallabies prospered in New Zealand, their antecedents in Australia experienced widespread local population extinctions as part of a drastic, widespread and ongoing decline. In this study, a polymerase chain reaction-single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis was undertaken of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region sequences from P. penicillata in New Zealand (n = 18) and throughout the species' native range in southeastern Australia (n = 54). A single mtDNA haplotype was identified in New Zealand, while 17 haplotypes were found in sampled Australian populations. Phylogenetic analysis (583 bp sequence) revealed the presence of three divergent mtDNA groups within Australian P. penicillata, with each group showing distinct geographical circumscription. The New Zealand haplotype consistently clustered within the central New South Wales group and was most similar (0.55% sequence divergence) to a haplotype from Winmalee, just west of Sydney. It seems likely then, that the New Zealand population of P. penicillata was founded by animals captured near Sydney in the late 19th century. Since P. penicillata in this region have experienced widespread population declines and extinctions, the naturalized New Zealand population represents a potentially valuable conservation, resource for Australia. However, the unusual history of New Zealand's P. penicillata presents unique challenges to Australian wildlife managers.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2561-2567
    Number of pages7
    JournalMolecular Ecology
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


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