Tue, August 09, 2022


Chinas Amur tiger population at risk of inbreeding

Chinese researchers have discovered that although Chinas wild Amur tiger population is experiencing rapid growth, there are risks of inbreeding.

Inbreeding is more likely to occur in small, isolated and endangered populations, and may influence the sustainable survival of a population.

The Amur tiger population in China experienced a severe decline in the 1990s, with just over 10 of the tigers recorded at the end of the 20th century. After various effective conservation measures, more than 20 Amur tiger cubs were found in China in the last five years.

However, researchers from the Northeast Forestry University discovered that the recovering population is at risk of inbreeding given its small population. They said the species' inbreeding status has not yet been evaluated, and the relationship between inbreeding and health in wild animals remains poorly understood.

Based on 150 genetic samples collected from the main Amur tiger habitats in China, the study published in the journal Animal Conservation analyzed the population's inbreeding level, major histocompatibility complex polymorphism, parasitic infections, and gut microbial structures and functions, and then explored the influence of inbreeding on these traits.

The results indicated that the Amur tiger population in China has reached a moderate level of inbreeding and that there are direct interactions between inbreeding intensity and parasitic load and gut microbiota, according to Jiang Guangshun, leader of the research team and a professor at the university.

He noted that the study provides an early warning for the health of the Amur tiger population, and can promote international ecological cooperation and the reintroduction of new individuals to relieve the evident inbreeding pressure.

Published : December 31, 2021

By : Xinhua