MadSci Network: Evolution

Subject: Are animals in captivity evolving differently from wild counterparts?

Date: Sat Sep 4 01:56:02 1999
Posted by Chad D. Gill
Grade level: undergrad School: n/a
City: Cudjoe Key State/Province: FL Country: USA
Area of science: Evolution
ID: 936424562.Ev

If most evolutionary mutations occur due to a change in enviroment, will 
the captive breeding programs benefit endangered species in the long run? 
I am aware that genetic diversity is important to a healthy captive 
breeding program. I have studied species survial programs for many 
species. One factor that seems to be ignored is enviromental and social 
changes for the animals in question. If an animal species does not utilize 
it's genetic purpose over generations will this cause reverse evolution? 
Can animals loose the ability to fill the niche they evolved into if they 
are not active in the niche over several generations? This could also 
apply to the shrinking wildlife preserves. I know that mutations are 
spontaneous, but isn't the continued evolution inevitable due to the 
enviromental changes humans have imposed upon them? Would this turn a 
lion, great hunter of the savannah, into a scavenger? Over time would 
primates become less intelligent, because they are not required to think 
as much? If these changes occur, in the wild or captivity, how would these 
new species or subspecies be classified?     

Re: Are animals in captivity evolving differently from wild counterparts?

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