Journal article Open Access

Big Cat Genomics*

O'Brien, Stephen J.; Johnson, Warren E.

Advances in population and quantitative genomics, aided by the computational algorithms that employ genetic theory and practice, are now being applied to biological questions that surround free-ranging species not traditionally suitable for genetic enquiry. Here we review how applications of molecular genetic tools have been used to describe the natural history, present status, and future disposition of wild cat species. Insight into phylogenetic hierarchy, demographic contractions, geographic population substructure, behavioral ecology, and infectious diseases have revealed strategies for survival and adaptation of these fascinating predators. Conservation, stabilization, and management of the big cats are important areas that derive benefit from the genome resources expanded and applied to highly successful species, imperiled by an expanding human population.

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