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The Use of Genomics in Conservation Management of the Endangered Visayan Warty Pig (Sus cebifrons)
The list of threatened and endangered species is growing rapidly, due to various anthropogenic causes. Many endangered species are present in captivity and actively managed in breeding programs in which often little is known about the founder individuals. Recent developments in genetic research techniques have made it possible to sequence and study whole genomes. In this study we used the critically endangered Visayan warty pig (Sus cebifrons) as a case study to test the use of genomic information as a tool in conservation management. Two captive populations of S. cebifrons exist, which originated from two different Philippine islands. We found some evidence for a recent split between the two island populations; however all individuals that were sequenced show a similar demographic history. Evidence for both past and recent inbreeding indicated that the founders were at least to some extent related. Together with this, the low level of nucleotide diversity compared to other Sus species potentially poses a threat to the viability of the captive populations. In conclusion, genomic techniques answered some important questions about this critically endangered mammal and can be a valuable toolset to inform future conservation management in other species as well.
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