Tnx789 Conservation Essay

1419 words - 6 pages

Endangered populations have usually gone through a process of decline and fragmentation during which genetic drift is expected to gain preponderance over selection and gene flow. This might in turn show itself as loss of genetic diversity, slightly deleterious alleles might increase in frequency or even become fixed. Homozygosity might also increase because of diversity loss and the increased opportunity for inbreeding. Many recent studies have reported negative consequences of declining diversity and incre3ased inbreeding on important fitness components in wild populations. Genetic analysis of endangered species using molecular markers has become more common in recent years, but empirical studies of the genetic status of species on the verge of extinction are scarce, especially in cases where the dynamics of the decline and fragmentation have been documented. The Iberian lynx provides a paradigmatic example of a species at the verge of extinction and it is classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (habitat destruction, persecution etc. have led to its decline). Only two populations separated by about 240km in the southern part of Spain remains, the protected area of Doñana and its surroundings and the Sierra de Andújar in Sierra Morena Mountains. The two remnant Iberian lynx populations not only differ in their current size, but also in their previous demographic history. Due to the recent demographic decline in the Iberian lynx being well documented and the two populations got different demographic histories, in terms of both isolation and population decline, there is the opportunity to evaluate the impact on current genetic patterns. It also gives the opportunity to obtain an empirical assessment of the power of current statistical methods for detecting past bottlenecks and inferring past demographic history. To do this mitochondrial sequences and 36 microsatellite markers were used, to evaluate the current genetic status of the species and to assess the genetic markers of the past.
Samples for the study were collected from animals trapped, cubs sampled at their dens and animals found dead during population monitoring and field research in the two remnant populations of the Iberian lynx. As sampling biases might have resulted in biased results due to overrepresentation of closer relatives a second data set was used which excluded close relatives due to partially known genealogy. The low effective population size and rapid mutation rate (in animals) makes mtDNA useful for assessing genetic relationships of individuals or groups within a species and also for identifying and quantifying the phylogeny among different species. First mtDNA sequences from different individuals or species are determined and then compared, the data is used to make a network of relationships among the sequences, which provides an estimate of the relationships among the individuals or species from which the mtDNAs...

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