Kakapo population (Strigops habroptilus)
Ecology and Environment
9th Sep, 2023
The genetic mapping of almost the entire kakapo population has discovered some specific traits that will help conservation biologists in their efforts to save these parrot species.
About the Species:
- Kakapo, also called owl parrot, is a giant flightless nocturnal parrot of New Zealand.
- With a face like an owl, a posture like a penguin, and a walk like a duck, the extraordinarily tame and gentle kakapo is one of strangest and rarest birds on Earth.
- They only breed every few years, triggered by the availability of certain forest foods such as the fruits of the native rimu tree.
- They also have very little wings. So, Kakapo is flightless.
- These birds evolved to be flightless by filling a specific ecological niche on an island with no predators.
Threats to their population:
- kakapo suffer from diseases such as the fungal infection aspergillosis.
- There eggs are also infertile, due to less breeding.
The total known population of living individuals is 247 as of 2023.
- The kakapo is critically endangered.
The Rimu fruit (Dacrydium cupressinum):
- The mature Rimu tree towers over the canopy with its weeping leaves and shedding bark.
- Rimu plays an integral role in the mating cycle of the kakapo.
- The periodic mast-seeding of Rimu every couple of years helps synchronise kakapo mating efforts.
- Unripe Rimu fruit acts as ‘kakapo viagra’ stimulating birds of both sexes into breeding, whereas the ripe fruit contains the perfect combination of nutrients and energy for growing chicks.