Scientists examined the nuclear DNA of forest elephants across their range to assess the species’ genetic diversity. They found that the elephants’ nuclear DNA, as opposed to mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), is diverse but consistent among populations across Central Africa.

Male elephants wander. As they mature and prepare to breed, they roam great distances in search of estrous females. These movements are key to elephant population dynamics: by breeding with females far from their family, males promote gene flow and ensure a genetically healthy population. In Africa, males of both forest and savanna elephants travel and compete for access to females to the extent of hybridizing, but what does this mean for elephant conservation?

Over the last decade, research has shown that the DNA of forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) differs sufficiently from that of savanna elephants (L. africana) to be considered a separate species. A recent study examined the within-species genetic structure of the forest elephant across its range to better understand how genetically distinctive regional populations of the species are and how that might affect its conservation. […]


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