Endangered species’ genomes help conservationists judge risk of extinction

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Some species may face extinction when they are not able to adapt as easily to changing environments or defend against new diseases. To better identify or rank threatened and engendered species, researchers from Purdue University suggest using the animals’ rate of genetic diversity loss.

“Genetic diversity is a key component to the long-term survival of a population,” Janna Willoughby, a then-doctoral student in wildlife genetics, said in a statement. “The approach we developed identifies populations with limited genetic diversity that isn’t going to be enough to allow the population to persist over time. We found that this method performs significantly better than current methods for identifying species in need of conservation efforts.”

Willoughby, along with Andrew DeWoody, a professor of genetics, studied positions of genes on chromosomes in order to estimate genetic diversity loss among wildlife populations. From this they were able to develop a statistical approach for estimating the number of generations remaining before a species’ genetic variation reaches a low threshold.

Read full, original post: Endangered Species’ Genetic Diversity Explains their Decline

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