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Monday
Feb282011

Amur tiger population decreases

According to scientist's recent findings the effective population of the endangered Amur Tiger is now down to a staggering 14. There are approximately 500 of the tigers living in the wild but the effective population is a measure of genetic diversity.

Sometimes known as the Siberian tiger its home used to be a large section of northern China, the Korean peninsula and the southernmost regions of east Russia.

Throughout the early 20th century the Amur tiger faced extinction due expanding human settlements and poaching. By the 1940's there were under 30 tigers in the wild creating a "genetic bottleneck" which decimated the gene pool.

A diverse genetic population is essential for survival ensuring that the species has resistance to diseases and genetic disorders.

The scientists had this to say regarding their discovery:

"Our results are the first to demonstrate a quite recent genetic bottleneck in Siberian tigers, a result that matches the well-documented severe demographic decline of the Siberian tiger population in the 1940s," the researchers wrote in the paper.

"The worryingly low effective population size challenges the optimism for the recovery of the huge Siberian cat."

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