Boosting genetic diversity may save vanishing animal populations
The expanding global human footprint is dividing the world’s flora and fauna into ever-smaller, more isolated populations that could wink out because of inbreeding, disease, or environmental change. For decades, conservationists have proposed revitalizing those holdouts by bringing in new blood from larger populations.
Although zoos have worked to maintain genetic diversity in endangered species by carefully matching individual animals for breeding, the strategy has rarely been tried in nature. Researchers have only recently been able to detect what happens on a molecular level.
In one stream, the displaced fish had to travel a long way and only slowly made their way downstream to a small, isolated population. In the other stream, the fish more quickly joined another isolated group.