1 Tahrcountry Musings: Genes not responsible for the decline of Iberian Lynx

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Genes not responsible for the decline of Iberian Lynx

It was with great fascination that I read this paper on Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus). It is perhaps the most endangered cat in the world. The population of the Iberian lynx has plummeted below 300 individuals in two isolated areas in Spain. Habitat destruction and the decline of its main prey, the European rabbit are the main causes of the decline.

Some people believe the lack of genetic diversity may spell doom for the species. Surprisingly a new study of DNA found in fossil bones,  have shown that the Iberian lynx has had very low genetic diversity, for at least 50,000 years.  How the lynx managed to pull on despite this low genetic diversity has flummoxed the scientists.

The scientists say they don't blame the genes for the decline in population. They blame it squarely on the lack of political will to save it.

Journal Reference:
Ricardo Rodríguez, Oscar Ramírez, Cristina E. Valdiosera, Nuria García, Fernando Alda, Joan Madurell-Malapeira, Josep Marmi, Ignacio Doadrio, Eske Willerslev, Anders Götherström, Juan Luis Arsuaga, Mark G. Thomas, Carles Lalueza-Fox, Love Dalén. 50,000 years of genetic uniformity in the critically endangered Iberian lynx.Molecular Ecology,

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