July 26, 2010
Landscape Affects Giant Panda Genetic Groups
Genetic analysis of giant pandas has shown that features of their landscape have a profound effect on the movement of genes within their population. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Genetics found that physical barriers, such as areas lacking bamboo plants and other forest foliage, can separate giant pandas into isolated genetic groups.
Fuwen Wei, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, worked with a team of researchers to study giant pandas in the Xiaoxiangling and Daxiangling mountains. He said, "These results suggest that gene flow will be enhanced if the connectivity between the currently fragmented bamboo forests is increased. This may be of importance to conservation efforts as gene flow is one of the most important factors for maintaining genetic diversity within a species and counteracting the negative effects of habitat fragmentation".
Reference: Landscape features influence gene flow as measured by cost-distance and genetic analyses: a case study for giant pandas in the Daxiangling and Xiaoxiangling mountains. Lifeng Zhu, Xiangjiang Zhan, Tao Meng, Shanning Zhang and Fuwen Wei. BMC Genetics (in press)
Image Credit: Zhu et al., BMC Genetics
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