1 Tahrcountry Musings: Amur tigers teetering on the brink?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Amur tigers teetering on the brink?

The latest reports about Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica), from a team of scientists from Russia, Spain and Germany, appearing in the latest issue of journal Mammalian Biology is really worrying.
The researchers say the Amur tigers have been reduced to an effective population of fewer than 14 animals. Approximately 500 Amur tigers live in the wild, but the effective population is a measure of the genetic diversity of the Amur tiger.
Genetic bottleneck during the tigers' recent history has been brought out by the research.  Mode shift in allele frequencies tests were positive, while the M-ratio test was negative, indicating the likelihood of a contemporary rather than a historical population bottleneck.   This translates in to a situation where any vulnerability to disease or rare genetic disorders is likely to be passed on to the next generation. A more genetically diverse population of animals has a much better chance of survival. The research highlights the fact that detection of genetic bottleneck signatures in wildlife species is highly relevant for conservation. 

Siberian tiger's recent population bottleneck in the Russian Far East revealed by microsatellite markers
Samer Alasaad, Ramón C. Sorigue, Galina Chelomin,Yury Petrovich Sushitsk and Joerns Fickel
Mammalian Biolog

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