The arrival of humans was one of the most cataclysmic events in the history of kiwi evolution.
Changing kiwi evolution
The arrival of humans has changed the future evolution of kiwi. Populations have been reduced in size, some have been lost altogether, and the kiwi gene pool has shrunk. This may make the bird less adaptable, and inbreeding is a risk as populations become fragmented and isolated.
However, as remaining populations become more isolated from each other, some of these changes may also create opportunities for different kiwi varieties to evolve.
For example, kiwi in Northland, already cut off from other populations for tens of thousands of years by Auckland’s volcanic activity, are now cut off by the sprawling metropolis of Auckland city. It’s possible that a new variety of brown kiwi may evolve.
While things are currently bad for kiwi, they are not bleak. Iwi, communities, businesses and government agencies are working to secure the birds’ future.