Genetic Diversity and the Cheetah by Sonal Panse

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Kelsi Weston 3/4/13

The scientific article that I have chosen is Genetic Diversity and the Cheetah by Sonal Panse. The article discusses how and why cheetahs exhibit genetic diversity in the wild and in zoos. Genetic diversity refers to any variation in the nucleotides, genes, chromosomes or whole genomes of organisms. This diversity in genetics is vital to the ultimate survival of a species. Diversity ensures that the species is immune to specific genetic complications, infectious diseases and other serious health concerns. It also guarantees that the species independently and as a whole can adapt to changes in their environment and can survive and live prosperously. According to researchers genetic diversity occurred more than ten thousand years ago when extreme climatic changes drove many animal species to extinction. The cheetah today is an endangered mammal and only a few thousand can presently be found around the world and are most likely to be seen in zoos.

Cheetahs currently are lacking genetic diversity due to their absent genetic differences, genes that are uniquely identical to each other and poor sperm count in male cheetahs. First, Cheetahs exhibit a startling lack of genetic diversity in their genes. In most species related in the wild individuals share about eighty percent of the same genes while in cheetahs they show a surprising ninety percent of the same genes. Even among animals found in different regions cheetahs had no genetic diversity. Their genes have been found to be so identical as to appear to belong to a set of identical twins. Furthermore, researchers have effectively carried out skin graft experiments on cheetahs and have found that their bodies don’t even reject tissues taken from an unrelated animal. This overall poses a good and a bad reaction in the cheetahs overall survival of the species. During the period when genetic diversity first took place cheetahs mated with close relatives and this led to cheetahs losing their...
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