Positive impacts of genetic restoration

Following the release of the eight Texas pumas into Florida in 1995, FWC researchers and collaborators assessed the level of genetic mixing in the Florida panther population using three methods:

Researcher cataloging genetic samplesFWC panther researcher cataloging panther genetic samples at the National Cancer Institute

 

 

  • A pedigree analysis, similar to a family tree, to assist in determining family lineages and associated health issues that may be passed along family lines;

  • A genetic analysis to identify unique characteristics of Florida panthers and Texas pumas and define levels of genetic variation; and

  • An analysis of physical characteristics associated with inbreeding (e.g., tail kinks, cowlicks, undescended testicles, poor sperm quality and heart defects)

 

 

These results were published in the September 24, 2010 edition of the journal Science. The pedigree analysis verified successful pairings between pre-restoration panthers and the Texas females, as well as between subsequent generations of the offspring of these pairings (post-restoration panthers). Inbreeding continued to occur to some extent, although not at the levels observed prior to 1995. The pedigree analysis also documented the associations between specific family lines and occurrences of undescended testicles and heart defects.

Post-restoration Florida panthers exhibited greater genetic variation than existed before the release of the Texas females. This had a significant impact on the incidence of physical defects associated with inbreeding: fewer undescended testicles, a higher percentage of normal sperm and fewer heart defects, kinked tails and cowlicks.  Subsequent work, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Florida, has demonstrated genetic restoration had a positive impact on adult and kitten survival as well as reducing the probability of extinction of the Florida panther population. All these benefits have been critical to preventing the extinction of the Florida panther.

An inbred population that has benefited from a boost of genetic variation should increase in size in most cases. In fact, the number of adult and subadult panthers Adobe PDF thought to reside in south Florida has increased more than fourfold since 1995, the year the Texas pumas were released. It is important to note that in 2003 the last two Texas pumas that were still alive were removed from the wild in Florida. No Texas pumas remain in the Florida panther population today.

 

 



FWC Facts:
Alligator gar grow up to 10 feet long and 350 pounds. Their head looks very much like an alligator's.

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