Plumage colour variations in the Agapornis genus: a review

Published in: Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology
Volume 90, issue 1, 2019 , pages: 1–10
DOI: 10.2989/00306525.2018.1540446
Author(s): Henriëtte van der ZwanCentre of Human Metabolomics, South Africa, Carina VisserDepartment of Animal and Wildlife Sciences, South Africa, Rencia van der SluisCentre of Human Metabolomics, South Africa


The genus Agapornis consists of nine small African parrot species that are globally well known as pets, but are also found in their native habitat. Illegal trapping, poaching and habitat destruction are the main threats these birds face in the wild. In aviculture, Agapornis breeding is highly popular all across the globe. Birds are mainly selected based on their plumage colour variations but very little molecular research has been conducted on this topic. There are 30 known colour variations amongst the nine species and most of these are inherited as Mendelian traits. However, to date none of the genes or polymorphisms linked to these variations have been identified or verified. Due to unethical breeding practices, the need for the development of molecular tests such as identification verification tests or species identity tests is growing. Future research is paramount to ensure the conservation of wild populations as well as aiding breeders in improving breeding strategies.

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