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From Dung to Demography Using noninvasive methods in the conservation of elephant populations — Lori S. Eggert, Kris Budd & Marissa Ahlering
The Genetic Diversity of the Asian Elephant, Elephas maximus, across its Distribution
Kris Budd & Lori S. Eggert
Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia MO, USA
The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is an endangered species whose rapid decline can be attributed to habitat degradation and fragmentation. While the largest populations of Asian elephant are found throughout India, smaller yet viable populations are found within Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China. Indian populations are larger and therefore on average have been heavily monitored and studied. Here we describe the range wide diversity with nuclear and mitochondrial markers by utilizing an extensive library of published data from across the species distribution. In Asian elephants, nearly every study uses identical markers; making them able to be cross referenced quite effectively. Our aim was to identify areas of high genetic diversity in order to inform management of areas with high conservation need. Our results demonstrate the value of smaller populations in preserving the overall genetic integrity of the Asian elephant for future generations. They additionally suggest that while populations found in the Southeast Asian peninsula are on average smaller, they represent a wealth of genetic diversity often unseen in the larger populations of India. These comparatively high levels of genetic diversity raise questions of their own as to the recent evolution and compression of Asian elephants throughout their native range.
Digital Poster available here!
Supplemental Information Available soon:
Budd and Eggert 2017 (Currently in Prep) Evaluation of the Genetic and Genomic Diversity of the Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus)
EleFas — Publicly available and downloadable FASTA for direct genetic comparison to previous Elephas studies, includes all studies used in the publication cleaned and trimmed for Mitochondrial DNA Analyses
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