Thursday, February 3, 2011

Elephant Seal Bottleneck

Impact of a population bottleneck on symmetry and genetic diversity in the northern elephant seal


The northern elephant seal suffered a severe population bottleneck towards the end of the nineteenth century. Expectations for the impact of population bottlenecks include the loss of genetic diversity and a loss of fitness however; there are few direct demonstrations in natural populations. This research paper compares archive samples collected prior to and following the northern elephant seal population bottleneck. Measures of genetic diversity show a loss of variation consistent with expectations and suggest a strong disruption in the pattern of allele frequencies following the bottleneck. Measures of bilateral characters show an increase in fluctuating asymmetry.

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