The modern cheetah is found in eastern and southeastern Africa, but their ancestors have recently been discovered to originate from North America. This factor helps researchers understand why their population is declining. The ancestral cheetah was originally found in North America, but due to their migration to Asia and eventually Africa their were two apparent bottle neck affects. The first, was due to the large area a cheetah inhabits, and not allowing another individual in its territory. Due to this large area, they tended to resort to incestuous mating. Then later, on the North American population became extinct, along with North American pumas. This allowed no possible gene flow.
The modern cheetah, is suffering from low populations because of inbreeding and they tend to inbreed more because the populations are so low. It is a viscous cycle that can lead the species to extinction. Inbreeding limits the amount of diversity in a population. This is bad because after many years of inbreeding, the sperm of the species has become weak, and there is no real way to fix it. There is no genetic variation in the species to fix problems like this that may occur. Researchers hope that this discovery in the cheetahs past will lead to saving their future.
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