Friday, August 26, 2016

Entry One: Hybrid Animals

          My initial reaction to this article, besides thinking that 'grolar bears' sounded like 'granola bears', was surprise. Shultz's main point was that hybridization like that between polar and grizzly bears is unlikely to occur in abundance in the upcoming years as Earth's climate changes. He cited a study in Nature Climate Change that simulated the migration patterns of animals in response to climate change, which found that "only 6.4% of species are expected to come into geographic contact with a hybridization possibility by the end of the century." Specifically, the findings were that birds had an 11.6% overlap, mammals, 4.4%, and amphibians, 3.6%, and that 85% "of all future hybrid meet-ups occurred in the tropics." I would have guessed these percents to be higher, when even these ones are probably too high, Shultz says, because they don't take into account man-made barriers that would obstruct animal migration.
          This article reminds me of discussions we had in Biology class about diversity and variation. For a species to survive, there must be genetic variation among the population. I wonder if hybridization between two closely related species, such as the polar and grizzly bear, would help or hurt the survival chances of the species. On the one hand, hybridization could introduce new genes into the population, therefore bolstering it against complete decimation by a single change in the environment. On the other hand, isn't it possible that hybrid animals could have mutations or be unable to reproduce and further the species, and therefore hybridization would actually hurt survival chances? I'm not sure. By the way Shultz writes about this topic, it seems as if he believes hybridization would be bad, because his tone seems relieved that the predictions for future hybridization incidences are so low.

1 comment:

  1. I did not get a chance to read this article, but it peaks my interest. The idea of hybrid animals is very fastinating, but I am confused as to why this can happen. Like I know how you can get a hybrid animal, because two different species or variations of the species mate. But I can't help but think back to the zoo when you would see a mule or Liger and the people would say that they could not mate with other animals. I wonder why that is? Or I wonder if that is even true because I was so young when I heard it. I feel like if thats true it sorta of impeds variation in specie or new species from being formed... which is a good thing in some ways but in other ways I think the world is missing out on some pretty sweet species because of it.