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Research suggests fitness of Florida panthers improved by limited breeding with Texas animals

l Park and Big Cypress National Preserve, he said.

Pimm, whose research group works in the Everglades each year, said some scientists have erroneously tended to "look at a map and say, 'because this species isn't here [on the map], then it can't be here.'"

Pimm noted the case of a panther biologist who he said was dismissed from his government post for arguing that developers should not be given permits to clear areas where the endangered species has not been seen before.

"Our results support his contention that the panther is a generalist. You certainly don't want to give up areas to developers by assuming that panthers cannot occupy them," said Pimm, who noted that an expanded range for Florida panthers could raise several such social issues.

While female hybrids seem to be surviving considerably better than their purebred counterparts, "hybrid males have shorter lives than purebreds," the paper also reports. The authors suspect many of the males are killed by older purebred males in the area. Others migrate into areas with "fewer cats but other dangers from human settlement," Pimm said. "Young males get into trouble whatever species they are."

Pimm acknowledged the hybrid panthers are genetically different from purebreds. But he and his co-authors noted that the federal government has decided that offspring hybrids will still be considered "Florida panthers" eligible for endangered species protection.


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Source:Duke University


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