Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Genetic History of European Beaver

The family Castordae has only two living species left, Castor canadensis, the North American beaver, and Castor fiber, the European beaver. This was not always the case for the Castordae family, but over time only two species survived, and it was a struggle to make it to today. Castor fiber, the European beaver, has recently the topic of research at the University of York, UK and the University of Potsdam, Germany. They wanted to compare and contrast the DNA genomes of the modern day European beaver to it's relatives that have went extinct as far back at 10,000 years. Through the study they looked at 48 DNA samples of extinct beavers ranging rom a few hundred years old to 11,000 years old, and 152 modern day sequences. Their findings show that the beavers can be divided into three groups, the tow main were found in western and eastern Europe, and the third was found in the Danube basin, but went extinct 6,000 years ago. The findings show that the most genetic diversity was in the past when most of the species coexisted, but know the genetic variation is relatively low.

Only the Castor fiber survives, and can be found throughout Europe and into Northern Asia. It is a shame that the genetic diversity was lost along with so many species. In fact the modern European was almost hunted to extinction in the 19th century, with only 1200 left at the lowest population point. The lack of species and interbreeding or the bottleneck of the modern species may have been the culprit to the low genetic variation.  

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