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The Problem Of Low Genetic Diversity In The Siberian Tiger

866 words - 4 pages

The problem Inbreeding poses
The genetic diversity of Siberian Tiger populations has been declining rapidly due to increased inbreeding between tigers which has occurred as a result of their dwindling numbers. This poses a very real and worrying problem as a low number of different alleles in a species’ gene pool undermine the ability of members of the species to evolve and adapt to changes in their environment. This in turn would put the tigers at a greater risk of extinction which would have the effect of permanently disrupting food chains- a problem which could cause even more species to become extinct. Not only do Tigers contribute to biodiversity but, “they prevent over-grazing by ...view middle of the document...

3. Neonatal mortalities rates is over 80%
4. Cleft Palate, Strabismus, mental impairments, immune deficiency & scoliosis of the spine are all effects of inbreeding.
5. Increase in homozygosis which is when the offspring has two identical alleles of a specific gene.
6. A smaller gene pool – the less genetic variation a species has the more likely it is to become extinct by an epidemic
7. Reduced fertility which makes creating offspring difficult.
During the 20th century, 3 of the 8 tiger subspecies became extinct which has exacerbated the problem of a population of genetic bottleneck as there has been a sudden reduction in Siberian tiger numbers. Subsequently there has also been a reduction in the number of different alleles in the population as a whole- a decrease in genetic diversity. The decrease in genetic diversity has been caused by:
1. Heavy poaching of both Siberian Tigers & their prey which has become popular because, “Tiger pelts, as well as organs and bones, are worth thousands of dollars” A black market has developed for tiger pelts and bones encouraging poaching at the expense of the Siberian Tigers.
2. Deforestation which has resulted in habitat loss, for example, the building of the railroads in the East Manchurian mountains in 1935
3. The Russian Civil War during which White & Red armies in Vladivostok almost entirely eradicated the tiger population in eastern Russia.
4. The legalisation of tiger hunting around the world, for example, in the Soviet union until 1947
5. An increased demand...

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