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Population genetics informs the management of a controversial Australian waterbird

Cite this dataset

Davis, Skye; Stow, Adam; Brandis, Kate (2021). Population genetics informs the management of a controversial Australian waterbird [Dataset]. Dryad.


Widespread degradation across Australia’s inland wetland network has contributed to severe declines for many waterbird species. In contrast, breeding colonies of the Australian white ibis (Threskiornis molucca) have increased in urbanised areas along the coast, but the level of dispersal and gene flow between inland and coastal areas remain unknown. This study uses single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to ascertain the variables influencing genetic connectivity among several inland and urban colonies of white ibis across south-eastern Australia between 2015 and 2018. The contemporary effective population size was estimated, and this value was used in simulations to evaluate the impact of various management scenarios on future genetic diversity. We found no significant differences in allele frequencies between localities, or robust evidence of site fidelity, therefore suggesting widespread dispersal and gene flow between inland and urban colonies. Furthermore, effective sizes were large enough to maintain genetic diversity into the future under various realistic management scenarios. However, the lack of genetic partitioning found suggests that urban management of the ibis should not be undertaken in isolation of the conservation requirements of inland colonies.


The data were collected as part of a population genetics study investigating gene flow and effective population sizes of Australian white ibis (Threskiornis molucca) across south-east Australia. Feather samples were collected non-invasively from 11 wetlands and extracted DNA was sequenced via genotyping-by-sequencing methods employed by Diversity Arrays Technology, Canberra, Australia. Resulting single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were filtered for quality.

Usage notes

Please see the ReadMe file for additional details on the dataset.


Ecological Society of Australia

Macquarie University

Ecological Society of Australia