Mitochondrial DNA offers a glimpse into how climate warming may again threaten populations of endangered wild drills.
New research shows that wild drills (Mandrillus leucophaeus) may see a dramatic population decline if the forest dries out and vegetation becomes sparser amid warming temperatures.
Looking for clues amid 2,076 base pairs of mitochondrial DNA—genes passed down along female lineages—researchers discovered genetic signs that coincide with the conditions that mirror current climate projections for the equator around the globe in the next 100 years.
“The drills went through a large population collapse—as much as 15-fold,” says Nelson Ting, a professor of anthropology at the University of Oregon. “This occurred sometime around the mid-Holocene, which was about 3,000 to 5,000 years ago.”
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Photo credit: University of Oregon