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Cayman Turtle Centre’s Caribbean Aviary is in the process of helping Christopher Cambrone, a Master’s Degree student from Guadeloupe in his regional study on genetics and distribution in populations of White-crowned Pigeon. Geddes Hislop, Curator Terrestrial Exhibits, has been leading a captive breeding programme which has been helping to increase the numbers of White Crowned Pigeons in the wild, by breeding them and then releasing them when they are old enough to fend for themselves. CTC Caribbean Aviary staff are helping the student by catching the pigeons, early in the morning, and taking a sample of feathers from them, and then sending them to the student for analysis.
“CTC is best suited to participate on behalf of the Cayman Islands because of our easily accessible flock of about 50+ captive Cayman-bred WCP,” Mr. Hislop explained. “We will collect pulled feathers from a sample of our captive flock with bits of epithelial (skin) samples on them from as many birds as we can catch over the next few days. The vet will select the feathers and store them in sterile conditions to be sent to Guadeloupe for DNA analysis. One of the outcomes we are hoping for is to find out if we have a separate sub-species of WCP in Cayman or if they are all part of a “regional flock” for this highly mobile species,” Mr. Hislop said.
Mr Cambrone was very grateful for the help: “My research project consists to study the White-Crowned Pigeon, especially in Guadeloupe. For my first year of my Master degree, during my internship in March – June 2016, I compared two methods of detection, the auditory survey method and the call-broadcast survey method. At the beginning of 2917 we want to apply genetics methods in order to assess the population size of Guadeloupe and to compare it with other populations such as Puerto Rico, Antigua and other islands. We have now 34 samples (fingers and feathers) from hunting corpses (Guadeloupe). We will receive samples from other Islands, but it will be too little,” he said.