Highly Informative Ancient DNA ‘Snippets’ for New Zealand Moa
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Background Analysis of ancient DNA has provided invaluable information on past ecologies, ancient populations, and extinct species. We used a short snippet of highly variable mitochondrial control region sequence from New Zealand's moa to characterise a large number of bones previously intractable to DNA analysis as well as bone fragments from swamps to gain information about the haplotype diversity and phylogeography that existed in five moa species. Methodology/Principal Findings By targeting such 'snippets', we show that moa populations differed substantially in geographic structure that is likely to be related to population mobility and history. We show that populations of Pachyornis geranoides, Dinornis novaezealandiae, and Dinornis robustus were highly structured and some appear to have occupied the same geographic location for hundreds of thousands of years. In contrast, populations of the moa Anomalopteryx didiformis and Euryapteryx curtus were widespread, with specific populations of the latter occupying both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. We further show that for a specific area, in this case a North Island swamp, complete haplotype diversity and even sex can be recovered from collections of small, often discarded, bone fragments. Conclusions/Significance Short highly variable mitochondrial 'snippets' allow successful typing of environmentally damaged and fragmented skeletal material, and can provide useful information about ancient population diversity and structure without the need to sample valuable, whole bones often held by museums.
© 2013 McCallum et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License CCAL. (http://www.plos.org/journals/license.html)
Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified