America bottleneck cheetah dating genetic primary source
In short, female cheetahs' mating habits wind up getting genetic information from lots of different fathers into the next generation and that helps preserve genetic variation!
In fact, the impact of multiple matings on genetic variation may help explain how the trait evolved in cheetahs in the first place.
Philandering males, sneaking around behind their partners' backs or openly canoodling, are a stock character on Animal Planet.
Male lions, male chimps, and male elephant seals (along with many others) play the Casanovas, pairing up with multiple females.
On the other hand, a female with a more genetically uniform litter might not have any of her cubs survive their dicey environment (Scenario 2 below).Nevertheless, conservation biologists may have reason to hope that this genetic variation will not drain away as quickly as was thought now that researchers from the Zoological Society of London have laid bare female cheetahs' cheating hearts.The scientists have found that not only do female cheetahs bear single litters with multiple fathers, but those fathers are rarely near neighbors.A population with low genetic variation is something of a sitting duck vulnerable to all sorts of environmental changes that a more variable population could persist through.
And unfortunately, those are exactly the circumstances faced by cheetahs today.If, for example, a genetically uniform population were exposed to a new pathogen and did not carry the gene versions necessary to fend off the disease, the population could face complete extinction.