2014-10-13. A Threat Is Seen in Pumas’ Isolation.

posted Oct 14, 2014, 3:33 PM by Alan Gould   [ updated Oct 14, 2014, 3:40 PM ]
For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 6 and Losing Biodiversity chapter 4. Excerpt: The isolating effects of human development are causing a sharp decline in genetic diversity among mountain lions in Southern California, a new study says. Researchers from the University of California, Davis, collected DNA samples from more than 350 mountain lions throughout California and found that animals separated by little more than a highway have far less genetic material in common than they did just 80 years ago, suggesting that there is far less interbreeding among populations. Pumas in the Santa Ana Mountains — effectively fenced in by Interstate 15 to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west and Los Angeles to the north — displayed lower genetic diversity  ...So severe is their isolation that the Santa Ana pumas have more in common genetically with lions 400 miles to the north than their neighbors in the Santa Monica Mountains. ... “Genetically diverse populations are better able to handle whatever nature or humans throw at them, like climate change or disease,” said Dr. Ernest, a geneticist now at the University of Wyoming. “If mountain lions lose that genetic diversity, they lose that resilience.”.... By Douglas Quenqua, The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/14/science/a-threat-is-seen-in-pumas-isolation.html?ref=science.