Asian elephant gene study: surprise result

December 20, 2005

Scientists at Columbia University have found that one of the few remaining groups of wild Asian elephants in India is genetically distinct.

The study's findings might have far-reaching implications in conservation plans for the endangered elephants, as well as other species on the subcontinent.

Prithiviraj Fernando, a post-doctoral researcher at the Columbia's Center for Environmental Research and Conservation and Don Melnick, executive director of CERC, together with colleagues from the Center for Ecological Science at the Indian Institute of Science, collected dung samples from nearly 300 wild Asian elephants and 30 captive elephants for which reliable capture information existed.

They then examined DNA from the samples and found that, of the distinct populations found in India, the group inhabiting the forests in the northeast of the country is actually composed of two genetically distinct populations separated by the Brahmaputra River.

Despite the low and declining numbers of Asian elephants, relatively little is known about their genetic diversity -- information that's crucial to preserving the species.

The study appears in the current issue of the journal Animal Conservation.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Seeing double: Africa's 2 elephant species

Related Stories

Seeing double: Africa's 2 elephant species

December 21, 2010

Contrary to the belief of many scientists (as well as many members of the public), new research confirms that Africa has two—not one—species of elephant. Scientists from Harvard Medical School, the University of ...

10 dead Borneo pygmy elephants feared poisoned

January 29, 2013

(AP)—Ten endangered Borneo pygmy elephants have been found dead in a Malaysian forest under mysterious circumstances, and wildlife officials said Tuesday that they probably were poisoned.

Recommended for you

NASA's space-station resupply missions to relaunch

November 29, 2015

NASA's commercial space program returns to flight this week as one of its private cargo haulers, Orbital ATK, is to launch its first supply shipment to the International Space Station in more than 13 months.

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.