Russian scientists give an explanation for the wonder of beaver survival throughout the 19th century, when these animals were badly endangered and lived in conditions that would be fatal for another mammalian species.
A population of beavers can survive, if it includes only three animals living together. Such a small size of viable population is explained by the genetic adaptation of beavers to inbreeding. Beaver genome and behaviour account for an outstanding viability of this species, as is established by A.N. Milishnikov and his colleagues from the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution in Moscow.
Beavers have a rather puritan character: as distinct from other mammalian species, they dont give way to promiscuity, but live as couples and even families. Several families make up a settlement (colony) that is a larger society of beavers. However, families maintain their genetic isolation and do not interbreed. Each family resides within a certain area of a river and bank, where the others cannot enter (trespassers are severely punished).
In every family, only one couple breeds, and their offspring stay with them for a long while and dont breed. Young beavers can make up a couple once they find a suitable place on the river for their own family lodge. Obviously, beavers possess a huge reserve of genetic diversity in order to avoid the negative consequences of inbreeding.
Russian scientists have revealed that genetic differences between beavers within the same colony are stronger than those between representatives of different colonies. A beaver chooses a mate not haphazardly. This was for the first time discovered in the course of captive breeding, which was rather unsuccessful: most animals refused to mate and behaved aggressively to each other.
Only very few couples were happy and lived together for many years. The scientists do not yet know how beavers choose their mates. Apparently, it is somehow connected with the need to avoid genetic similarity.
More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:
New rearing method may help control of the western bean cutworm
09.12.2013 | Entomological Society of America
The invasive Turkestan cockroach is displacing the oriental cockroach in the southwestern US
09.12.2013 | Entomological Society of America
The molecular architecture of three key proteins and their complexes reveals how plants fine-tune their immune response to pathogens
Plants rarely get sick in their natural environment. When the threat of infection arises, a quick decision is made about the necessary countermeasures. The course is set by a protein which forms complexes with its partner proteins for this purpose.
Jane Parker from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding ...
Researchers studying speciation of butterfly orchids on the Azores have been startled to discover that the answer to a long-debated question "Do the islands support one species or two species?" is actually "three species".
Hochstetter's Butterfly-orchid, newly recognized following application of a battery of scientific techniques and reveling in a complex taxonomic history worthy of Sherlock Holmes, is arguably Europe's rarest orchid species. Under threat in its mountain-top retreat, the orchid urgently requires conservation recognition.
A lavishly illustrated publication, titled "Systematic revision of Platanthera in ...
Researchers from Brown University and the University of Hawaii have found some mineralogical surprises in the Moon's largest impact crater.
Data from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper that flew aboard India's Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter shows a diverse mineralogy in the subsurface of the giant South Pole Aitken basin.
The differing mineral signatures could be reflective of the minerals dredged up at the time of the giant impact 4 billion years ago, ...
In power electronics systems bonded connections create the central electrical connections between adjoining surfaces.
The quality of these bonded connections is one of the main factors that determines the reliability and availability of drive systems in electric vehicles, and hence constitutes a major design challenge for German auto manufacturers aiming to electrify their vehicles.
Now the partners participating in the RoBE (Robust Bonds in ...
International team of scientists develops new feedback method for optimizing the laser pulse shapes used in the control of chemical reactions
In many ways, traditional chemical synthesis is similar to cooking. To alter the final product, you can change the ingredients or their ratio, change the method of mixing ingredients, or change the temperature or pressure of the environment of the ingredients.
Like an accomplished chef, chemists have become very skilled ...
11.12.2013 | Information Technology
11.12.2013 | Life Sciences
11.12.2013 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
11.12.2013 | Event News
10.12.2013 | Event News
05.12.2013 | Event News