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: African vultures declining at a critical rate

Related Stories

African vultures declining at a critical rate

June 19, 2015

An international team of researchers, including leading scientists from the University of St Andrews, the Hawk Conservancy Trust and the University of York, say African vultures are likely to qualify as 'Critically Endangered' ...

Protecting wildlife goes hi-tech, and gets harder

August 6, 2014

Those who want to protect elephants and rhinoceroses in Africa often face dangerous criminal traffickers who are bold, enterprising and well-equipped, leaders said at the US-Africa summit this week.

Recommended for you

The dark side of Nobel prizewinning research

October 4, 2015

Think of the Nobel prizes and you think of groundbreaking research bettering mankind, but the awards have also honoured some quite unhumanitarian inventions such as chemical weapons, DDT and lobotomies.

Internet giants race to faster mobile news apps

October 4, 2015

US tech giants are turning to the news in their competition for mobile users, developing new, faster ways to deliver content, but the benefits for struggling media outlets remain unclear.

Trade in invasive plants is blossoming

October 3, 2015

Every day, hundreds of different plant species—many of them listed as invasive—are traded online worldwide on auction platforms. This exacerbates the problem of uncontrollable biological invasions.

Fusion reactors 'economically viable' say experts

October 2, 2015

Fusion reactors could become an economically viable means of generating electricity within a few decades, and policy makers should start planning to build them as a replacement for conventional nuclear power stations, according ...


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.