Bird Conservation International

Molecular systematics of New Zealand Cyanoramphus parakeets: conservation of Orange-fronted and Forbes' Parakeets

W. M.  Boon , J. C.  Kearvell , C. H.  Daugherty  and G. K.  Chambers 


The controversy that presently surrounds the taxonomy of the Orange-fronted Cyanoramphus malherbi and Forbes' C. forbesi Parakeets has important implications for the conservation of both birds. Both taxa are critically endangered, but consensus regarding their specific status has not yet been achieved. We present mitochondrial DNA sequences for the cytochrome b gene and the control region from 17 Cyanoramphus parakeets representing nine populations and six taxa together with field observations of courtship and breeding behaviour in a sympatric population of Orange-fronted and Yellow-crowned Parakeets C. auriceps. Field data support species status of the Orange-fronted Parakeet under the Biological Species Concept. Phylogenetic analyses of our DNA sequence data support earlier hypotheses based on allozyme data that both Orange-fronted and Forbes' Parakeets represent distinct species under four species concepts and indicate that high conservation priority is warranted for both taxa.