European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 59, Issue 2, pp 215–225

A genetically distinct lion (Panthera leo) population from Ethiopia

Authors

    • National Heart and Lung Institute, Faculty of MedicineImperial College London
    • Research Group Molecular EcologyMax Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Markus Gusset
    • Leipzig Zoo
    • Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of ZoologyUniversity of Oxford
  • Sebastian Lippold
    • Research Group Molecular EcologyMax Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Ross Barnett
    • Department of ArchaeologyDurham University
  • Klaus Eulenberger
    • Leipzig Zoo
  • Jörg Junhold
    • Leipzig Zoo
  • Carlos A. Driscoll
    • Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of ZoologyUniversity of Oxford
  • Michael Hofreiter
    • Research Group Molecular EcologyMax Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
    • Department of BiologyThe University of York
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10344-012-0668-5

Cite this article as:
Bruche, S., Gusset, M., Lippold, S. et al. Eur J Wildl Res (2013) 59: 215. doi:10.1007/s10344-012-0668-5

Abstract

Lion (Panthera leo) numbers are in serious decline and two of only a handful of evolutionary significant units have already become extinct in the wild. However, there is continued debate about the genetic distinctiveness of different lion populations, a discussion delaying the initiation of conservation actions for endangered populations. Some lions from Ethiopia are phenotypically distinct from other extant lions in that the males possess an extensive dark mane. In this study, we investigated the microsatellite variation over ten loci in 15 lions from Addis Ababa Zoo in Ethiopia. A comparison with six wild lion populations identifies the Addis Ababa lions as being not only phenotypically but also genetically distinct from other lions. In addition, a comparison of the mitochondrial cytochrome b (CytB) gene sequence of these lions to sequences of wild lions of different origins supports the notion of their genetic uniqueness. Our examination of the genetic diversity of this captive lion population shows little effect of inbreeding. Immediate conservation actions, including a captive breeding programme designed to conserve genetic diversity and maintain the lineage, are urgently needed to preserve this unique lion population.

Keywords

Addis AbabaCaptive breedingCytochrome BEthiopiaLionMicrosatellitesZoo

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012