Endangered Devils Hole Pupfish is one of the Most Inbred Animals Known
Published:14 Nov.2022    Source:ScienceDaily
High levels of inbreeding are associated with a higher risk of extinction, and the inbreeding in the Devils Hole pupfish is equal to or more severe than levels reported so far in other isolated natural populations. Although we were not able to directly measure fitness, the increased inbreeding in these pupfish likely results in a substantial reduction in fitness.Other pupfish species are also inbred, the researchers found, but only between 10% and 30% of their genomes are identical.
The level of inbreeding in the Devils Hole pupfish is equivalent to what would happen if four to five generations of siblings mated with one another. This tends to burn in or fix, rather than weed out, harmful mutations, potentially dooming a population to extinction by mutational meltdown. The Devils Hole pupfish species is currently doing well in the wild and in captive or "refuge" populations, but such low genetic diversity could spell trouble as the climate changes and human impacts become greater.In the face of these potential threats, the new genome sequences will help scientists and conservationists assess the health of native pupfish populations and potentially intervene in refuge populations to increase the genetic diversity of these species -- the Devils Hole pupfish, in particular.

The Devils Hole pupfish, is unique in its small range and perilous existence, making its fluctuating population in the wild worrisome to conservationists.Part of the question about these declines is whether they may be due to the genetic health of the population. Maybe the declines are because there are harmful mutations that have become fixed because the population is so small.The small population is partly a result of human incursions into their habitat. Humans are not totally to blame for the lack of genetic diversity in the Devils Hole pupfish, however.