Gene Flow and Genetic Restoration: The Florida Panther as a Case Study

P. W. Hedrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

208 Scopus citations


Abstract: Populations of some endangered species have become so small that they have lost genetic variation and appear to have become fixed for deleterious genetic variants. To avoid extinction from this genetic deterioration individuals from related subspecies or populations may have to be introduced for genetic restoration i.e., elimination of deleterious variants and recovery to a normal level of genetic variation. I construct a general population genetics framework from which to evaluate the potential for genetic restoration, and I discuss its specific application to the Florida panther. The translocation of Texas cougars into the free‐ranging Florida panther population has been recommended to genetically restore the Florida panther, a subspecies of Felis concolor that appears to have both a low level of genetic variation and low fitness. Specific recommendations recently given by a scientific panel are to introduce enough animals so that there is approximately 20% gene flow in the first generation of translocation and approximately 2–4% in the generations thereafter. I evaluated these recommendations in a theoretical population genetics framework and found that they should result in the removal of most detrimental genetic variation and an increase in the standing genetic variation without a high probability of loss of any adaptive Florida panther alleles. Unless the population of the free‐ranging Florida panthers is very small, the planned translocation should result in genetic restoration of the Florida panther. Flujo de genes y restauractión: La pantera de la Florida como un estudio de caso

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)996-1007
Number of pages12
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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