Genetic Overrepresentation

The Biomedical Survey confirmed that not only were few individuals reproducing, but also some pandas were over-represented genetically. The sample pedigree from one institution (Fig. 3.4) illustrates this problem. The first impression is that an impressive number of offspring has been produced. Closer examination, however, reveals that most of the young are derived from a single male and two females. Other founders in this subpopulation are under-represented or have never reproduced. This issue has been addressed through training in modern genetic theory along with beginning to manage giant pandas genetically in China (and abroad) (see Chapter 21). Nonetheless, discovering the prevalence of unknown paternities and over-represented individuals emphasised that these challenges will be ongoing and that continuous genetic monitoring will be essential to maintaining a heterozygous, healthy, reproductively fit giant panda population in captivity.

Figure 3.4. Partial pedigree from a representative institution showing over-representation by one male and two females (shaded). □, male; o, female; 4, cub that died without gender being determined.

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