Navigation Links
World's largest sheep an international traveler
Date:7/22/2011

NEW YORK (July 22, 2011)A genetic study of the world's largest sheep species has revealed that the big-horned animals travel extensively across the moutainous borders of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and China according to Wildlife Conservation Society researchers with the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Using a non-invasive technique that extracts DNA from fecal samples, researchers in WCS's Afghanistan Program found that Marco Polo sheep in the Pamir Mountains of Afghanistan are genetically connected to sheep in neighboring Tajikistan and China, in spite of the challenging terrain.

The study produced two recently published papers, appearing in recent editions of Conservation Genetics and Journal of Wildlife Management. The authors of the papers include: Richard.B. Harris of the University of Montana, and John Winnie, Jr.of Montana State University (both of whom did their work under the auspices of the Wildlife Conservation Society); Gordon Luikart, Stephen. J. Amish, and F.W. Allendorf of the University of Montana; and Albano Beja-Pereira, Vnia Costa, and Raquel Godinho of the Universidade do Porto (Portugal).

"Wide-ranging species such as Marco Polo sheep are difficult to monitor in the best of conditions, and our ability to follow them across their mountain habitats is limited," said Richard B. Harris, a wildlife scientist from the University of Montana and the Wildlife Conservation Society. "Non-invasive methods of determining population trends and relatedness are extremely valuable in understanding how to best protect these magnificent animals."

Because Marco Polo (or argali) sheep are elusive animals that are difficult to track, the research team collected fecal samples from 172 individual sheep from five different areas in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and China as a means of answering questions about the genetic diversity and connectivity of animals in the region. Researchers searched for sheep on high vantage points, collecting fecal pellets after a group of animals was located. Genetic material was then extracted from the fecal matter and isolated for statistical analysis.

According to the study results, Marco Polo sheep populations in the Pamirs have a high degree of genetic diversity. Indications of genetic connectivity were detected between sheep populations in both Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Sheep in China, however, were found to be somewhat more isolated, highlighting a need for international collaboration in protecting corridors between the region's countries.

"Genetic studies such as these are the only feasible option for answering important questions on how to best manage wide-ranging species that occur in remote locations such as the Marco Polo sheep," said Peter Zahler, Deputy Director for WCS's Asia Program. "The study's results underline the need for international cooperation between Afghanistan, Tajikistan, China, and even Pakistan to ensure that the world's Marco Polo sheep populations can continue to move across these giant mountains as needed, irrespective of political boundaries."

With the assistance of WCS and support from USAID (United States Agency for International Development), the government of Afghanistan has launched several initiatives to safeguard the country's wild places and the wildlife they contain. In 2009, the government gazetted the country's first national park, Band-e-Amir. The park was established with technical assistance from WCS's Afghanistan Program. WCS also worked with Afghanistan's National Environment Protection Agency (NEPA) in producing the country's first-ever list of protected species, an action that now bans the hunting of snow leopards, wolves, brown bears, and other species. In a related effort, WCS now works to limit illegal wildlife trade in the country through educational workshops for soldiers at Bagram Air Base and other military bases across Afghanistan. WCS also works with more than 55 local communities in Afghanistan to better manage their natural resources, helping them conserve wildlife while improving their livelihoods. WCS has helped train and deploy more than 50 community rangers to monitor wildlife such as Marco Polo sheep, and also patrol the region to stop poaching.

The Marco Polo sheep is actually a subspecies of argali and is named after the 13th Century explorer who described the animal in his travelogue. Argali are classified as Near Threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Marco Polo sheep are threatened by human-related activities such as poaching, habitat degradation and fragmentation.


'/>"/>

Contact: Stephen Sautner
ssautner@wcs.org
718-220-3682
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. New book reviews ancient and modern worlds of RNA
2. Media registration opens for Neuroscience 2011, worlds largest meeting on brain science and health
3. Landsat 5 satellite helps emergency managers fight largest fire in Arizona history
4. Caltech researchers build largest biochemical circuit out of small synthetic DNA molecules
5. EUREKA, the largest European network for industrial R&D and innovation, launches E!NNOVEST
6. Scientists discover the largest assembly of whale sharks ever recorded
7. The Pantanal: A book on the ecology of the largest contiguous wetland in the world
8. Newly discovered natural arch in Afghanistan one of worlds largest
9. Energy, security, superconductivity and more at the largest physics meeting of the year
10. NIH launches largest oil spill health study
11. Worlds largest lake sheds light on ecosystem responses to climate variability
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
World's largest sheep an international traveler
(Date:4/28/2016)... BANGALORE, India , April 28, 2016 ... subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: INFY ), and Samsung ... global partnership that will provide end customers with a ... and payment services.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130122/589162 ... for financial services, but it also plays a fundamental part ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... April 27, 2016 Research ... Multi-modal Biometrics Market 2016-2020"  report to their offering.  ... The analysts forecast the global multimodal ... 15.49% during the period 2016-2020.  Multimodal ... sectors such as the healthcare, BFSI, transportation, automotive, ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... Research and Markets has announced ... 2016-2020,"  report to their offering.  , ... global gait biometrics market is expected to grow ... 2016-2020. Gait analysis generates multiple variables ... to compute factors that are not or cannot ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... ... recently became double board-certified in surgery and surgery of the hand by the ... is no stranger to going above and beyond in his pursuit of providing ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... Melbourne, FL (PRWEB) , ... May 25, 2016 , ... ... of eight she tore her cruciate ligament in her left knee. Lady’s owner Hannah ... , a central Florida board-certified veterinary surgeon, to repair her cruciate ligament and help ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... Jolla, CA (PRWEB) , ... May 24, 2016 , ... ... financial planning for corporate executives and entrepreneurs, held The Future of San Diego Life ... in the San Diego life science community attended the event with speakers Dr. Rich ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc. (NYSE and ... that its Board of Directors has approved the payment of ... of 2016. The cash dividend of $0.24 ... 2016 to stockholders of record as of the close of ... subject to approval of the Board of Directors and may ...
Breaking Biology Technology: