Conservation genetics of the Cheetah: Genetic history and implications for conservation

Publication Year:

The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is one of the most recognized examples of the important links between evolutionary history, genetic variation, and conservation. Its value to the biodiversity of the world is not only warranted by its unique physical characteristics, such as being the fastest land mammal (Chapter 7), but also its unique evolutionary lineage as the only extant representative of its genus, Acinonyx. Concerns over levels of genetic variation among cheetahs were first raised as captive programs grappled with difficulties in breeding cheetahs (Chapter 27). These observations led to research investigating the biological basis of the low rates of captive breeding success (10%–15%) and the concurrent high rate of infant mortality (29%) (O'Brien et al., 1985). This research led to the discovery of low levels of genetic diversity in the cheetah, which were attributed to one or several severe population bottlenecks. As a consequence, debates arose regarding the impact of low genetic diversity on the survival of the species, and the cheetah has been featured in genetic textbooks since the 1980s. Early research on cheetah represented one of the first studies in the new field of conservation genetics.

Publication Title:

Cheetahs: Biology and Conservation

Marker L , Boast LK, Schmidt-Küntzel A
San Diego, Elsevier
Item Type:
Book or Magazine Section

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