Dead seals serve conservation boost
Source: Alex Peel, Phys.org
Scientists have used genetic testing on animals that died of natural causes for the first time, potentially boosting efforts to save endangered species.
They tested nine male Antarctic fur seals found on Bird Island in the South Atlantic. Most had died from infections to wounds sustained in battle for the rights to females. The study was published in the journal BMC Genomics. They hope the trick could now be used on endangered animals, providing valuable information towards their conservation while removing the need for sacrificing individuals. Investigating genes can provide scientists with vital clues about an animal's chances of survival in a rapidly changing environment. 'In many wild animal populations that are subject to natural and sexual selection, genes can be an important predictor of a given individual's fitness,' says Dr Joe Hoffman of Bielefeld University, the study's lead author. 'For example, animals with high genetic diversity are almost universally found have increased survivorship, carry fewer parasites and achieve greater reproductive success,' he says.
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