Selection for heterozygosity gives hope to a wild population of inbred wolves.
Recent analyses have questioned the usefulness of heterozygosity estimates as measures of the inbreeding coefficient (f), a finding that may have dramatic consequences for the management of endangered populations. We confirm that f and heterozygosity is poorly correlated in a wild and highly inbred wolf population. Yet, our data show that for each level of f, it was the most heterozygous wolves that established themselves as breeders, a selection process that seems to have decelerated the loss of heterozygosity in the population despite a steady increase of f. The markers contributing to the positive relationship between heterozygosity and breeding success were found to be located on different chromosomes, but there was a substantial amount of linkage disequilibrium in the population, indicating that the markers are reflecting heterozygosity over relatively wide genomic regions. Following our results we recommend that management programs of endangered populations include estimates of both f and heterozygosity, as they may contribute with complementary information about population viability. (+info)
Recovery of a US endangered fish.
BACKGROUND: More fish have been afforded US Endangered Species Act protection than any other vertebrate taxonomic group, and none has been designated as recovered. Shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) occupy large rivers and estuaries along the Atlantic coast of North America, and the species has been protected by the US Endangered Species Act since its enactment. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Data on the shortnose sturgeon in the Hudson River (New York to Albany, NY, USA) were obtained from a 1970s population study, a population and fish distribution study we conducted in the late 1990s, and a fish monitoring program during the 1980s and 1990s. Population estimates indicate a late 1990s abundance of about 60,000 fish, dominated by adults. The Hudson River population has increased by more than 400% since the 1970s, appears healthy, and has attributes typical for a long-lived species. Our population estimates exceed the government and scientific population recovery criteria by more than 500%, we found a positive trend in population abundance, and key habitats have remained intact despite heavy human river use. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Scientists and legislators have called for changes in the US Endangered Species Act, the Act is being debated in the US Congress, and the Act has been characterized as failing to recover species. Recovery of the Hudson River population of shortnose sturgeon suggests the combination of species and habitat protection with patience can yield successful species recovery, even near one of the world's largest human population centers. (+info)
Mammals on the EDGE: conservation priorities based on threat and phylogeny.
Conservation priority setting based on phylogenetic diversity has frequently been proposed but rarely implemented. Here, we define a simple index that measures the contribution made by different species to phylogenetic diversity and show how the index might contribute towards species-based conservation priorities. We describe procedures to control for missing species, incomplete phylogenetic resolution and uncertainty in node ages that make it possible to apply the method in poorly known clades. We also show that the index is independent of clade size in phylogenies of more than 100 species, indicating that scores from unrelated taxonomic groups are likely to be comparable. Similar scores are returned under two different species concepts, suggesting that the index is robust to taxonomic changes. The approach is applied to a near-complete species-level phylogeny of the Mammalia to generate a global priority list incorporating both phylogenetic diversity and extinction risk. The 100 highest-ranking species represent a high proportion of total mammalian diversity and include many species not usually recognised as conservation priorities. Many species that are both evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered (EDGE species) do not benefit from existing conservation projects or protected areas. The results suggest that global conservation priorities may have to be reassessed in order to prevent a disproportionately large amount of mammalian evolutionary history becoming extinct in the near future. (+info)
Comparison of the production, quality, and in vitro maturation capacity of oocytes from untreated cycling and intermediate phase equine serum gonadotropin-treated fat-tailed dunnarts (Sminthopsis crassicaudata).
Small effect of fragmentation on the genetic diversity of Dalbergia monticola, an endangered tree species of the eastern forest of Madagascar, detected by chloroplast and nuclear microsatellites.