The orange-bellied parrot, which is already at risk of extinction, is also threatened by viruses

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Many species are currently threatened around the world extinction due to various threats related to human activity such as climate change, urbanization and pollution. However, there are other phenomena that can threaten biological diversity. According to a recent study, rare Loryalready in critical danger of extinction, could be further threatened after the discovery that the small surviving population carries several dangerous virus. The research results were published in a journal Microbiological spectrum.

The species in question is orange-bellied parrot (Neophema chrysogaster), a bird with very bright colors, whose population numbers approx 80 individuals remained in the wild (fortunately, it is increasing), and therefore it is in serious danger of extinction. Lately actually detection infectious diseases emerging (EID) in endangered animal populations is increasing rapidly due to many factors such as anthropogenic influences and climate change. In the face of this growing recent threat, therefore, a team of researchers led Analysis to assess the potential risk of viral diseases for the world’s last remaining orange-crowned parrots.

To carry out the study, Dr. Subir Sarker, a microbiologist and associate professor at James Cook University, analyzes at stool samples accepted in 2021 from individuals bred for reintroduction purposes at Zoo Victoria to detect the presence of any viruses. And the results achieved are unfortunately alarming. “After this investigation we found out several viral pathogens already known in the population, but we also discovered the presence six viruses never before identified”Sarker said. The team really identified itself as a whole 11 viruses belonging to families Adenoviridae, Circoviridae, Parvoviridae and Picornaviridae. Of these, eight were detected in one aviary and the rest in another.

Scientists who study and protect this species are therefore very concerned from this discovery. In fact, this parrot species already faces various threats to its survival in the wild, including habitat loss, predation by alien species, and impacts on structures and buildings. His salvation therefore lies in reintroduction programs in the wild of individuals housed in structures such as zoos, however, where it is essential that they are in excellent health.

According to Sarker, it will be the next step continue in studying on these individuals to fully understand whether the newly identified viruses are limited to the birds examined in this study and whether they may represent and threat for the wild population if released into the wild. “It is now up to zoos and conservation authorities in Victoria, including the National Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Team, to decide how to manage this risk,” she says. “This is a context where we need more attention and more funding for research to understand and defend these iconic birds in Australia.”

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