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Genomics guide management strategies for jaguar rescue and recovery

By April 11, 2022April 11th, 2023No Comments

The jaguar (Panthera onca) is a keystone species threatened by habitat fragmentation, human-wildlife conflict, and illegal trafficking. This project will sequence jaguar genomes to investigate genetic diversity, population structure, and gene flow. This will help identify areas in need of conservation action (such as genetic rescue) and source populations for possible translocations. This is the first animal genomics project developed in Bolivia.

Bolivian jaguar with cubs

The jaguar (Panthera onca) is a keystone species in the Neotropics. It is listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but with decreasing population trends. The main threats for this species are habitat fragmentation, human-wildlife conflict and illegal trafficking. The demand for jaguar parts has increased in recent years. Together with the current habitat loss, there is an urgent need for improved jaguar conservation strategies.

There is an urgent need to include genetic data in the species’ conservation action plan to be able to make evidence-based decisions. However, information on jaguar genetics is incomplete for Bolivia. The goal of this project is to study jaguar genomics across Bolivia, which can guide conservation management strategies and help identify trade routes for illegal trafficking.

For this project, we will sequence 40 jaguar genomes. Using these genomes, we hope to investigate genetic diversity, population structure and gene flow of jaguars within Bolivia. This would help to identify areas in need of conservation actions (such as genetic rescue) and source populations for possible translocations. Insights gained from population structure will also help us to identify possible source regions for the illegal trade in jaguar body parts.

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