Despite being one of the world’s most charismatic species, tigers face uncertain futures primarily due to habitat fragmentation, human-wildlife conflict and poaching. As global tiger populations decline, so does their genetic diversity. But until now it’s been unclear how the animals’ dwindling numbers are affecting them at the genetic level.
To find out, researchers at Stanford University, the National Centre for Biological Sciences, India, and various zoological parks and NGOs sequenced 65 genomes from four of the surviving tiger subspecies. Their findings confirmed that strong genetic differences exist between different tiger subspecies but showed, surprisingly, that these differences emerged relatively recently, as Earth underwent a major climatic shift and our own species grew increasingly dominant.
This article was published by Stanford News on February 17, 2021.