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Genetics does not doom the Iberian lynx to extinction!

Genetics does not doom the Iberian lynx to extinction!

n a new genetic study researchers in Spain, Denmark and Sweden extracted DNA from fossil bones and teeth of Iberian lynx covering a period of at least the last 50,000 years. They looked at mitochondrial DNA - a part of the genome that is usually very variable. Remarkably, they found no genetic variation over that 50,000 year period.

08.09.2011

 

The Iberian lynx is currently considered the most threatened cat species in the world, and is classified as critically endangered by the IUCN. Ecologists and conservationists have assumed that if a species has very low genetic diversity then it is most likely doomed to extinction through inbreeding depression and a reduced ability to adapt to changing environments.

This view may be about to change.

In a new genetic study researchers in Spain, Denmark and Sweden extracted DNA from fossil bones and teeth of Iberian lynx covering a period of at least the last 50,000 years. They looked at mitochondrial DNA - a part of the genome that is usually very variable. Remarkably, they found no genetic variation over that 50,000 year period. They were able to show that such patterns are best explained by relatively small long-term population sizes over that period.

Reference Article: RODRÍGUEZ, R., RAMÍREZ, O., VALDIOSERA, C. E., GARCÍA, N., ALDA, F., MADURELL-MALAPEIRA, J., MARMI, J., DOADRIO, I., WILLERSLEV, E., GÖTHERSTRÖM, A., ARSUAGA, J. L., THOMAS, M. G., LALUEZA-FOX, C. and DALÉN, L. (2011), 50,000 years of genetic uniformity in the critically endangered Iberian lynx. Molecular Ecology. Ahead of print; doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05231.x

 

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