Study shows condors, an endangered species, can reproduce without mating

December 5, 2021
Nature
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Image Source: https://www.reuters.com/

California condors, a critically endangered species, can reproduce without mating, according to a study by conservation scientists at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

During a routine analysis of biological samples from the California condors in the zoo’s breeding program, the scientists found that two condor chicks had hatched from unfertilized eggs.

“It came as a big surprise, to be honest. We didn’t expect to find any of this,” said Cynthia Steiner, associate director for the alliance’s conservation research division.

Steiner is also the co-author of the study published last week in the Journal of Heredity, the official publication of the American Genetic Association.

Scientists confirmed that each condor chick was genetically related to its mother but neither bird was genetically related to a male. The two birds represent the first two instances of asexual reproduction, or parthenogenesis, to be confirmed in the California condor species, the zoo said.

“This is a very rare discovery because it’s not well-known in birds in general. So it’s known in other species, in reptiles and in fish, but in birds it’s very rare, in particular in wild species,” Steiner said.

Story Source: https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/study-shows-condors-an-endangered-species-can-reproduce-without-mating-2021-11-03/

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