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 ...

Study: Elephants thought extinct may have survived

April 17, 2008

The Borneo pygmy elephant may not be native to the island of Borneo after all. Instead, the population could be the last survivors of the Javan elephant race – accidentally saved from extinction by the Sultan of Sulu centuries ...

Scientists unravel the secret world of elephant communication

May 23, 2005

It's a cloudless July afternoon in Etosha National Park in northern Namibia, and ecologist Caitlin O'Connell-Rodwell is scanning the horizon for elephants. "It's so fantastic here," she says. "We're constantly seeing elephants, ...

Recommended for you

Self-sealing syringe prevents blood loss in hemophilic mice

October 28, 2016

(—For people whose blood does not clot appropriately, such as those with hemophilia, diabetes, or cancer, getting an injection or blood draw with a hypodermic needle is not a trivial matter. Because the needle ...

Closer look reveals tubule structure of endoplasmic reticulum

October 28, 2016

(—A team of researchers from the U.S. and the U.K. has used high-resolution imaging techniques to get a closer look at the endoplasmic reticulum (ET), a cellular organelle, and in so doing, has found that its structure ...

Gaia spies two temporarily magnified stars

October 28, 2016

While scanning the sky to measure the position of over one billion stars in our Galaxy, ESA's Gaia satellite has detected two rare instances of stars whose light was temporarily boosted by other celestial objects passing ...

Changing semiconductor properties at room temperature

October 28, 2016

It's a small change that makes a big difference. Researchers have developed a method that uses a one-degree change in temperature to alter the color of light that a semiconductor emits. The method, which uses a thin-film ...


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.