Topic of Diploma thesis:
Phylogeography and population genetics of the burrowing
The burrowing parrot (Cyanoliseus patagonus) is a formerly common
parrot species of Argentina and Chile.
One special feature of this parakeet species is its breeding
behaviour. The species is monogamous, and couples live in colonies
up to several
thousand individuals (e.g. El Condor: greatest known parrot colony
of the world). At this time they require vertical sand-, lime-
or earthcliffs where they dug nest tunnels which are up to three
The burrowing parrot feeds mainly on wild seeds and fruits, nevertheless
it is officially considered as agricultural pest and therefore
suffers from hunting by farmers.
Further problems emerge from fragmentation and decline of their
habitats as well as from pet trade. The UNEP-WCMC (United Nations
Programme – World Conservation Monitoring Centre) states
a number of 63500 exported individuals in the years 1997-2005.
By morphological evidence there are four subspecies related to
the burrowing parrot. Three of them living from north to south
C.p.patagonus at central to southeast Argentina, C.p.andinus
at northwest of Argentina and C.p.conlara from the west to central
While C.p. conlara is often just considered as hybrid of C.p.
patagonus and C.p.andinus. The fourth subspecies C.p.bloxami,
the centre of Chile, lives geographical isolated from the other
In spite of the threats mentioned above and the uncertainty of
the status of the different subspecies, the last time the conservation
status and the phylogenetic history of the burrowing parrot has
analyzed was in the early 1980´s.
The analyses of phylogeography and genetic differentiation could
not only provide important information on the taxonomical and
historical relationship between subspecies, but also about
status of population (i.e. conservation unit) and their role
in conserving gene flow and genetic diversity between widespread
Beside, the genetic diversity, as key facet of conservation
biology, ought to point out the viability of the populations
ability to face changes in their environment, thus their
ability to respond
One aspect of my diploma thesis is to determine the phylogeograhic
and historical relationship of the Cyanoliseus subspecies,
especially of the allopatric subspecies C. p. bloxami,
by means of mitochondrial
DNA sequence comparison (parts of the Cytochrome b, Cytochrome
Oxidase 1 and ATPase 8/9 genes).
Furthermore genetic differentiation and genetic diversity
in and between the subspecies and their populations should
mtDNA sequence and microsatellite analyses.
The genetic information needed for this study is gained
from moulted feathers from several colonies in Argentina