The southern California mountain lion population is in danger of extinction, according to a new study. Some conservationists are worried that the lack of genetic diversity could lead to more human-animal conflict and even endanger humans themselves.
The “mountain lion los angeles attack” is a recent event that has raised extinction fears among Southern California mountain lions. The signs of inbreeding are becoming more apparent.
(CBSLA) – LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Scientists studying two local mountain lion populations, one in the Santa Monica Mountains and the other in the Santa Ana Mountains, have discovered the first symptoms of inbreeding among these populations, which are blocked off from breeding opportunities by busy highways.
The animals had a 93 percent aberrant sperm rate, according to the UCLA-led research, which is accessible online and will be published in the January 2022 issue of the journal Theriogenology. Some of the animals also had visible evidence of inbreeding, such as malformed tails or testicular deformities.
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Pictured is the mother of a mountain lion that mauled a 5-year-old kid in Calabasas.
Researchers have long known that inbreeding exists genetically, but the deformed sperm is the first proof that inbreeding is manifesting in the reproductive system.
Audra Huffmeyer, a UCLA postdoctoral researcher who studies big cat fertility and is a National Geographic Explorer, stated, “This is a severe concern for an animal that is already threatened locally.” “It’s a serious situation.”
The findings, according to the researchers, highlight the urgent need for wildlife crossings, which enable mountain lions and other animals to move farther and locate a larger pool of prospective mates. Mountain lions, commonly known as cougars, are a bellwether species, meaning they are a leading signal that inbreeding in the Santa Monica and Santa Ana mountains would eventually pose difficulties for other species, according to the authors.
Thanks to a combination of public and private finance, the California Department of Transportation has planned the groundbreaking of one such wildlife crossing, a bridge across the Ventura (101) Freeway near Agoura Hills, for early 2022.
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More crossings are hoped for by biologists and land managers as a result of this initiative. In Riverside County, preliminary ideas for a proposed building above Interstate 15 are being developed.
Scientists from UCLA, the National Park Service’s Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center collaborated on the new research. The National Park Service and UC Davis are both conducting long-term research of Southern California mountain lion populations, with 17 animals now being tracked.
The study team discovered nine adult males exhibiting symptoms of inbreeding, including the first evidence of lower fertility, in the Santa Monica and Santa Ana ranges during the last year.
Huffmeyer highlighted that their results are comparable to early indicators of severe inbreeding reported in most Florida panthers in the 1990s, such as kinked tails, undescended testes, and teratospermia (60 percent or more aberrant sperm). Only the arrival of mountain lions from Texas helped the Florida panther population recover.
“The Florida panthers were also badly isolated and inbred, so finding the same qualities in our mountain lion population is worrying,” she added. “We will have more males with reproductive issues, fewer kittens, and a decreased percentage of kitten survival if we don’t do anything to add greater genetic variety to the Southern California mountain lions.”
Mountain lions in the Santa Monica and Santa Ana ranges face extinction, according to biologists. According to 2016 and 2019 papers evaluating population viability that included scientists from UCLA, NPS, UC Davis, the University of Wyoming, and the University of Nebraska, extinction is predicted to occur within 50 years once significant inbreeding depression is discovered – meaning decreased fertility and kitten survival.
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While a few mountain lions have successfully crossed highways — most notably the cougar known as P-22, who frequents Griffith Park — many more have been murdered while attempting to do so.
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The “mutated mountain lion california” is a sign that the southern California mountain lions are in danger of extinction. The signs of inbreeding among the animals have raised concerns about how long the population will last.
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