LitReviewIIIMahoney - Madeline Mahoney Giraffes were once...

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Madeline Mahoney Giraffes were once well-distributed across the dry grasslands of Africa. However, the in- creasing aridity of their environment has contributed greatly to their lack of distribution across Africa today. Increasing human pressures, such as poaching or war, have reduced the number of giraffes significantly. Several giraffes were considered a single species, but this study by Brown et al. (2007) used genetics and pelage pattern in order to determine which giraffe populations were reproductively and geographically isolated from one another. This distinction between species would be beneficial in preventing further endangerment or extinction. There has been much controversy over divisions of giraffe species and subspecies. This study hypothesized that nuclear and mitochondrial DNA markers would reveal multiple reproductive isolated groups of giraffes. Methods included: Methods included taking skin biopsies using biopsy darts from dis- tinct subspecies of giraffes. 266 giraffes in various geographic locations had their mitochondrial DNA sequenced and amplified. Phylogenetic relationships were estimated using maximum par- simony, maximum likelihood, and minimum evolution methods. 381 individuals had their mi- crosatellite loci amplified to create multilocus genotypes. Migration-rate estimation and isola- tion by distance were observed and analyzed as well. By analyzing mitochondrial DNA se- quences, the results showed at least six distinct giraffe lineages in Africa.

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