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The problem of low genetic diversity in cheetahs and its effects on conservation.

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Introduction

Low Genetic Diversity in Cheetahs What is genetic diversity? Genetic diversity is the variation of characteristics in a population of the same species and is very important because it allows that species to adapt to new environments and fight off diseases that occur during the evolution of that species (1). Genetic diversity can also be used to find out the origins of species as well as finding out what other species it links to, for example you can look at the characteristics and origins of humans and see that we have descended from primates also the modern humans started in Africa and then colonize in other parts of the world which was found out by looking at genetic diversity in different areas (2). Every living thing contains in their cells the instructions for their development and growth, these are known as genes and they cause all of our physical and mental characteristics that control the way different organisms (of the same or different species) react to different environments. These variations within the same species is what gives us the genetic diversity, therefore it is vital that these organisms have a high genetic diversity so they can adapt to our ever-changing ecosystem so that the group within the species with the better characteristics can go on to reproduce and pass on there genes. Domesticated species often have low levels of genetic diversity. ...read more.

Middle

and competition for food with more aggressive predators such as lions and Hyenas. Image3 Cheetah eating its kill Image4 Hyena stealing kill from Cheetah My solution to the problem. To start my idea is to put a ban on expansion and development in area with a high number of Cheetahs so that they are not forced in to a small area. Also farmers need to be banned from killing Cheetahs but in return a fund should be started to teach them about Cheetahs and also to help them protect the live stock with safe fences that Cheetahs can't get stuck in or get through. But this will not help the genetic diversity by much to this all the male Cheetahs need to logged in a book and tagged (need to use male Cheetahs because they are easier to split up and move because they often travel on their own and don't look after the cubs also the females release and egg every time it has sex so can get pregnant more than once at a time so a few males can be put with a female) then they need to be transferred to different locations after each mating season to try and stop inbreeding but this would only work on a short term. To really get the most out of this the Cheetahs would need to be split between different groups that only mix within that group then after they have each paired up mover them to a different group. ...read more.

Conclusion

Evaluation. Although the success rate is still not that high it is still a lot higher than the success rate of mating and also means fertilisation can happen without having to transport the Cheetah therefore reducing costs which is cheaper and means that the Cheetah will not stressed and scared in travelling. Artificial insemination also allows semen to be taken from wild male Cheetahs and used in the captive breeding program and in 2004 two Cheetah litters were successfully born to captive mothers using the sperm of wild Namibian Cheetahs.(7) Solution to low genetic diversity in Cheetahs. I Feel the best way to improve the low genetic diversity is to use Artificial insemination because despite the fact Cheetahs raised in captivity are never going to be able to be re-introduced into the wild because they have not learnt to hunt and survive in the wild. As well as the wild cheetahs eventually being unable to find an unrelated mates which would lead to mass inbreeding. To solve this AI should be used to impregnate wild female Cheetahs living in controlled environment (for the time being so they can be watched) using sperm samples from wild or captive males. Then when they give birth they shall teach their cubs how to hunt and survive in the wild so they will all grow up as wild Cheetahs. Then creating a new generations of Cheetahs mixed with captive and wild genes yet are fully wild and I also believe that this solution is completely sustainable and can be used for any other species in a similar position. ...read more.

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This essay contains some relevant ideas but the level of research and explanation is rather superficial.

Marked by teacher Jacqui Punter 21/02/2012

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