The Japanese wood pigeon Columba janthina is endemic to islands of East Asia and is listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). One subspecies, C. janthina nitens, in particular, is at the greatest risk of extinction due to its small population size. To reduce the extinction risk of C. janthina, it is important to understand the species' present genetic status and to develop an appropriate conservation plan based on genetic data. We developed seven new microsatellite markers for two subspecies of C. janthina: C. janthina janthina and C. janthina nitens. We also confirmed the cross-use of one microsatellite marker developed for Columba livia var. domestica. Seven loci were polymorphic in C. janthina janthina, while two loci were polymorphic in C. janthina nitens. Using the markers, we performed preliminary analysis of genetic diversity and genetic structure within each subspecies. The expected heterozygosity ranged from 0.00 to 0.64 in C. janthina janthina and from 0.00 to 0.08 in C. janthina nitens. Each subspecies and each population within C. janthina janthina had different allele frequencies. C. janthina nitens exhibited far lower genetic diversity than C. janthina janthina. Furthermore, C. janthina nitens appears to have experienced strong genetic drift from a common ancestral population, inferred by STRUCTURE analysis. The markers described here may be useful for investigating genetic diversity and genetic structure of C. janthina populations, and could be used to estimate appropriate evolutionary significant unit and to guide development of a captive breeding program based on genetic information.
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Vol. 28 • No. 12