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Genetic research confirms six subspecies of tigers

Date:
October 29, 2018
Source:
Nova Southeastern University
Summary:
A new study brings important context and conclusions to recovery and management strategies for a treasured endangered species, and included subspecies, at high extinction risk.
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They are one of the most majestic and, at the same time, threatened animals on the planet -- tigers. Some estimates put the total number of tigers in the wild at just around 4,000.

While there have been conservation efforts for many years, it is a never-ending struggle. Some estimates say that just a century ago there were more than 100,000 cats in approximately 13 countries. Fast-forward to 2018 and not only has the number of tigers plummeted, wild tigers no longer exist in Cambodia and Vietnam and for all intents and purposes are extinct in China, Laos and much of Myanmar.

Debate has also raged about how many subspecies of tigers there were -- and now a research project confirms that tigers do, in fact, fall into six distinct groups. The study has been published in Current Biology (October 25, 2018.)

These six subspecies include: the Bengal tiger,, Amur tiger, South China tiger, Sumatran tiger, Indochinese tiger and the Malayan tiger, first proposed in 2004. Three other tiger subspecies have already been lost to extinction.

"Tigers are rapidly headed for extinction in the wild, and the loss seen over the past few decades is increasing and is happening in spite of intense conservation interest, surveillance, legal protection, and expenditure," said Stephen O'Brien, a research scientist at Nova Southeastern University's (NSU) Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography. "The tiger depletion stands as one of conservation's most poignant morality tales of loss."

O'Brien, who is also the Chief Scientific Officer at the Theodosius Dobzhansky Center for Genome Bioinformatics, St. Petersburg State University, Russia, was part of the team responsible for this latest study. He was recently elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS.)

O'Brien said that the study brings important context and conclusions to recovery and management strategies for a treasured endangered species, and included subspecies, at high extinction risk. This new report represents a genome-wide sequence analyses that has direct bearing on recovery and management strategies for a treasured endangered species and subspecies at high extinction risk. The authors recommend the recognition, classification and management of the six living tiger subspecies as separate conservation units deserving individual protection planning.


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Materials provided by Nova Southeastern University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yue-Chen Liu, Xin Sun, Carlos Driscoll, Dale G. Miquelle, Xiao Xu, Paolo Martelli, Olga Uphyrkina, James L.D. Smith, Stephen J. O’Brien, Shu-Jin Luo. Genome-Wide Evolutionary Analysis of Natural History and Adaptation in the World’s Tigers. Current Biology, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.09.019

Cite This Page:

Nova Southeastern University. "Genetic research confirms six subspecies of tigers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181029104619.htm>.
Nova Southeastern University. (2018, October 29). Genetic research confirms six subspecies of tigers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 14, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181029104619.htm
Nova Southeastern University. "Genetic research confirms six subspecies of tigers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181029104619.htm (accessed June 14, 2024).

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