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Disappearing species

While watching one of those adverts begging for money for an endangered species, a thought occurred to me.

The animal in question was the Amur Leopard, of which there are, apparently, only 35 left. I am wondering, if there are only 35 left, and I appreciate this may not include any captive animals, is there enough genetic diversity for the species to continue to exist should their habitat be saved?

This then becomes a wider question: how much diversity is needed for a healthy species, or from the other side of the question, at what level does lack of diversity become harmful?

I realise that environment plays a huge part in the equation. As I understand evolution, genetic diversity increases the chances of adaptation in a changing environment. I assume that a lack of that diversity will be less harmful in a stable environment than in a changing one.

Given climate change, which is likely to change every environment to some degree or other, what chance is there for many of the marginal species in the world?

TAGGED: BIOLOGY, CLIMATE, ENVIRONMENT


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