Thursday, September 21, 2023

Galapagos and California Sea Lion Speciation


        Galapagos Sea lions are currently an endangered species native to the Galapagos islands. Galapagos sea lions are a member of the pinniped family and face threats such as plastic populations, habitat loss and change, and human activity. When it comes to the conservation of marine mammals, their genetic information is crucial to better understand their ecology and how to protect their populations. In 2007 researchers dove into the genetic composition of Galapagos Sea lions and California Sea Lions to determine if the two were distinct species. Through the analysis of mitochondrial DNA and phylogenetic reconstruction, they determined that the common ancestor of Galapagos Sea Lions and California Sea Lions existed 2.3 ± 0.5 mya. Additionally, they discovered that gene diversity is 14% lower in Galapagos Sea Lion populations.

         The reduced genetic diversity in Galapagos Sea Lions has large implications when it comes to species conservation. When the article was published the species was listed as threatened and as of 2023, the population is listed as endangered. For the population to be able to recover sustainably, the reduced genetic diversity should be taken into consideration. To properly conserve the population in the future, any breeding efforts should be carefully orchestrated to ensure the best genetic diversity possible. 

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