Research

Kākāpō conservation involves collaborative research, with local and international experts in fields such as genetics, artificial insemination, and nutrition all working towards the same goal.

You can read updates about our latest efforts here.

Publications: for a bibliography of kākāpō research publictions, see here.

Some of the research projects in recent years include:

Artificial Insemination

To evaluate kākāpō sperm, determining which male birds are fertile. To freeze sperm as a genetic resource for the future.  To Artificially Inseminate females with semen from males with rare genes to increase fertility and minimise the loss of genetic diversity.

 

Genetic studies

To learn about the genetic make-up of the kākāpō population so that we can identify close relatives, prevent inbreeding and thereby improve productivity and genetic diversity.

 

Supplementary feeding trials

To try to develop a supplementary food that femlae kākāpō can raise chicks on if natural food sources fail.

 

‘In/out’ trials

Feeding known quantities of kahikatea fruit and different hand-rearing formulae to chicks, to determine the quantities of specific nutrients chicks obtain from these foods.  This information will help us to formulate a supplementary food that female kākāpō can raise chicks on.

 

Faecal analysis

To study kākāpō droppings to try and identify any dietary triggers to kākāpō breeding.

 

Hormone therapy

To artificially induce breeding in female kākāpō through the application of female reproductive hormones.

 

Kākāpō habitat selection

To determine the carrying capacity of Whenua Hou (Codfish Island) for kākāpō, and identify habitat features that influence kākāpō productivity.

 

Artificial stimulation of rimu fruiting

To determine whether rimu trees can be stimulated to fruit, and so provide a key food source, through the artificial application of plant hormones.

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