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Thread: Genetic conservation of the Florida panther

  1. #1 Genetic conservation of the Florida panther 
    Moderator Moderator AlexP's Avatar
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    I thought maybe I could contribute here since I attend a college that concentrates very heavily on environmental science. And it's not a climate change thread either!

    Read the link below for background and let's discuss the following question...

    Considering that the Florida panther developed unique traits due to its inbreeding - such as a distinctive kink in its tail - was it 'wrong' to introduce Texas panthers into the population that would cause the disappearance of unique traits, even though it would ultimately increase genetic diversity within the population and save it from extinction by the severely deleterious effects of inbreeding? Or, more generally, is it worth it to save a small, genetically unhealthy population at the expense of its genetic uniqueness? (The unique kink in the tail did disappear with the introduction of the Texas panthers, by the way.)

    http://www.fws.gov/southeast/news/20...cFactSheet.pdf


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  3. #2  
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    One school of thought holds that the more diverse an ecosystem is, the more diversity that ecosystem can maintain.

    If so, then yes, it is worth saving some part of the florida panther if this prevents its extinction, as the florida panther occupies a unique niche in its environment.


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  4. #3  
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    The line between "inbred" and "niche adapted" is always going to be blurry.

    Cheetahs, as a species, are inbred by most measurements.

    In the case of endangered, artificially isolated, artificially reduced populations of a keystone predator, it might make sense even to hybridize out of the species altogether - fortunately, that is not necessary: other American panthers still exist.

    Down the road, the genuine niche adaptations will probably resurrect themselves under the local circumstances.
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  5. #4  
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    True. Looking at the big picture, it would be important to save the panther because as a large carnivore its disappearance would certainly have large impacts on the rest of the ecosystem in which it exists. And even if it lost some of its genetic uniqueness that would not change its niche.

    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura
    Down the road, the genuine niche adaptations will probably resurrect themselves under the local circumstances.
    yeah, there will still be the same selection occuring in that environment so ultimately it will still retain the characteristics of the Florida panther and the gene pool won't be swamped by Texas panther genes (and they took measures against that happening anyway).
    "There is a kind of lazy pleasure in useless and out-of-the-way erudition." -Jorge Luis Borges
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