Charlotte Minson

Doctor of Philosophy, (Zoology)
Study Completed: 2013
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
Diet-related factors in the conservation of kiwi (Apteryx mantelli)

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Ms Minson investigated dietary factors that impinge on the health of animals held in captivity, with a special focus on kiwi. She analysed the nutrient composition of a typical diet of wild kiwi and determined its digestibility. These data were used to synthesise an artificial diet based on readily available ingredients. She also investigated the role gut bacteria play in digestion and health. It was found that the first three weeks of life are critical for the acquisition of gut bacteria in both kiwi and chickens. During this period it is vital that chicks have access to appropriate bacteria from conspecific adults. She also showed that diet can alter gut bacterial communities and that the structure of these communities can differ markedly between captive and wild birds of the same species. Her results have practical implications not only for kiwi but also for the captive management of all species.

Professor Murray Potter
Professor Roger Lentle