Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dr Cothran's Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd genetics report

renowned scientist dr E. Gus Cothran issued a report on the genetics of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd -  reported The Could Foundation.

Please note that this is the most famous mustang/wild horse herd in the US. Documentary films have been made out these walking relics of Spanish horse breeding in the Americas, especially following the life of one stallion named Cloud -  ''Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies'' ( 1995 ) and  ''Cloud's Legacy: The Wild Stallion Returns'' (2003).
 The Cloud Foundation has a nice video library and photo gallery devoted to these horses.
Well, the report has plenty of important and alarming data summarised by dr Cothran:
Genetic variability  of this herd in general is on the high side but compared to past sampling of this herd, variability levels for all measures has been in decline. This is likely due to the population size that has been maintained in recent years. Overall, the herd is showing evidence of Spanish heritage that is stronger than seen recently, although the known mixed ancestry is still apparent. This is possibly due to the efforts to remove horses derived from introductions.

 Dr Cothran onclusions: 
''Current variability levels are high enough that no immediate action is needed . However, there has been a general trend for a decline in variations levels of the herds. If the trend continues the variability levels of the herd could drop below the feral average within the next five to ten years.''
“The best way to maintain the current levels (of genetic variability) would be to increase population size if range conditions allow.

The report is here
Government's page 
Wikipedia has a page on the subject and hence some photos from Wikipedia.

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