Explore the flexibility of Black Bucks across India

Flexibility of Black Bucks

Herds of black bucks roam the agricultural fields. Blackbucks are also seen in such human-dominated landscapes, albeit in relatively smaller groups. Such areas also face additional challenges related to human-wildlife conflicts. Credit: Ananya Gana

A new study from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) sheds light on how black bucks in India are surviving both natural and human-caused challenges to their survival. The work, a first in its scope, involved analyzing genetic profiles of black bucks found throughout the country.

Increased human activities such as haphazard cutting of trees and construction of dams across rivers were interrupted Natural views. These changing landscapes are restricted animal species to smaller territories, preventing them from moving to more distant regions to find new mates, which is a crucial factor for keeping Genetic diversity.

We need genetic diversity to preserve it Population Because if you have genetic diversity, populations are better able to adapt to changing environments,” explains Praveen Karanth, professor at the Center for Environmental Sciences (CES), Institute of Environmental Sciences and lead author of the study published in Conservation genetics.

Blackbuck is found only in the Indian subcontinent. Males have corkscrew-shaped horns and black to dark brown coats, while females are fawn-coloured. The animals are mainly seen in three broad groups across India relating to the northern, southern and eastern regions. This geographical separation as well as dense human habitation between the groups is expected to make it difficult for them to move from one location to another.

Flexibility of Black Bucks

Countless blackbacks scattered across the rolling grassland. Only a few of these habitats continue to thrive in India. Credit: Ananya Gana

“We went into the idea that this population may be genetically restricted, and going forward, they may be at risk of experiencing inbreeding depression.” [decreased biological fitness because of inbreeding],” recalls Ananya Gana, a former CES PhD student and first author of the study.

Karanth and Jana collected blackbuck fecal samples from 12 different sites spread across eight states in India. The researchers tracked the animals on foot and in vehicles from a distance to collect samples. When they got back to the lab, they extracted and sequenced DNA from stool samples to study the genetic makeup of the Black Bucks, and deployed computational tools to map geographic locations with Genetic data. The team also used simulations to track how the three current populations evolved from their common ancestor.

What they found is that the ancestral Blackbuck group first split into two groups: the northern and southern group. It seems that the eastern block – despite its geographical proximity to the northern group – emerged from the south gathering. “This was really a very surprising result,” Karanth adds.

Flexibility of Black Bucks

An adult male black male (left) and a pair of female black bucks with a baby fawn (right). Credit: Ananya Gana

Then, the team found that, against all odds, male black bucks seem to disperse more than expected, contributing to gene flow in the species. On the other hand, females seem to remain largely within their original population ranges, which the researchers inferred from the unique mitochondrial signatures in each group. Data is also shown growing trend Blackbuck population numbers compared to the recent past.

“So, [it] This species seems to have managed to survive in a human-dominated area,” Karanth notes. In future studies, the researchers plan to unlock the blackbucks’ secrets to surviving human-caused threats to their landscapes, by studying changes in acid Nuclear and gut microbiome Studies like these can provide better insight into conservation.

more information:
Ananya Jana et al, It’s Not All Black and White: The Geography and Population Genetics of an Endemic Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), Conservation genetics (2022). DOI: 10.1007/s10592-022-01479-x

the quote: Exploring Blackbucks Resilience Across India (2023, January 10) Retrieved January 10, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-01-exploring-resilience-blackbucks-india.html

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