Genetically distinct population of Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) in Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) of India
We analyzed mtDNA polymorphisms (a total of 741 bp from a part of conserved control region, ND5, ND2, Cyt b and 12S) in 91 scats and 12 tissue samples of Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) populations across Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) located at the foothills of Himalayas in North Western India, Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR), and North East India. In TAL and BTR, we found a specific haplotype at high frequency, which was absent elsewhere, indicating a genetically distinct population in these regions. Within the TAL region, there is some evidence for genetic isolation of the tiger populations west of river Ganges, i.e., in the western part of Rajaji National Park (RNP). Although the river itself might not constitute a significant barrier for tigers, recent human-induced changes in habitat and degradation of the Motichur-Chilla Corridor connecting the two sides of the tiger habitat of RNP might effectively prevent genetic exchange. A cohesive population is observed for the rest of the TAL. Even the more eastern BTR belongs genetically to this unit, despite the present lack of a migration corridor between BTR and TAL. In spite of a close geographic proximity, Chitwan (Nepal) constitutes a tiger population genetically different from TAL. Moreover, it is observed that the North East India tiger populations are genetically different from TAL and BTR, as well as from the other Bengal tiger populations in India.
KeywordsBengal tiger Population genetics mtDNA haplotype Terai Arc
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