Advancing genetic methods in the study of parrot biology and conservation

George Olah, Brian Tilston Smith, Leo Joseph, Samuel C. Banks, Robert Heinsohn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
168 Downloads (Pure)


Parrots (Psittaciformes) are a well-studied, diverse group of birds distributed mainly in tropical and subtropical regions. Today, one-third of their species face extinction, mainly due to anthropogenic threats. Emerging tools in genetics have made major contributions to understanding basic and applied aspects of parrot biology in the wild and in captivity. In this review, we show how genetic methods have transformed the study of parrots by summarising important milestones in the advances of genetics and their implementations in research on parrots. We describe how genetics helped to further knowledge in specific research fields with a wide array of examples from the literature that address the conservation significance of (1) deeper phylogeny and historical biogeography; (2) species-and genus-level systematics and taxonomy; (3) conservation genetics and genomics; (4) behavioural ecology; (5) molecular ecology and landscape genetics; and (6) museomics and historical DNA. Finally, we highlight knowledge gaps to inform future genomic research on parrots. Our review shows that the application of genetic techniques to the study of parrot biology has far-reaching implications for addressing diverse research aims in a highly threatened and charismatic clade of birds.

Original languageEnglish
Article number521
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: B.T.S. was supported by awards from the National Science Foundation US (DEB-1655736; DBI-2029955). MDPI waived the publication fee of this publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


Dive into the research topics of 'Advancing genetic methods in the study of parrot biology and conservation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this