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Himalayan Wolf Needs Recognition as Distinct Species, Study Finds

posted May 12, 2019, 10:48 PM by chloe owens

4/29/2019, by Mayank Aggarwal, Ecowatch

Himalayan Wolf Needs Recognition as Distinct Species, Study Finds

The Himalayan wolf is a distinct species of wolf, which shows unique genetic adaptation to the difficult conditions in the Asian high-altitude ecosystems, a study found, reiterating that it needs to be identified as a species of special conservation concern. "Conservation action for the Himalayan wolf is required and of global conservation interest," noted the study…Explaining that the Himalayan wolf is a little-understood wolf lineage found in the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau of Asia, the study noted that the species diverged from the Holarctic grey wolf 691,000 to 740,000 years ago. The Holarctic region includes all the non-tropical parts of Europe, Asia, Africa (north of the Sahara) and North America (till the Mexican desert region). According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global population of grey wolf (Canis lupus) is estimated to be 200,000 to 250,000 individuals. "The Himalayan wolf presents an overlooked wolf lineage that is phylogenetically [evolutionarily] distinct from grey wolves. Current evidence indicates that this wolf has diverged as an own lineage before the radiation of modern grey wolves. Hence the Himalayan wolf presents an evolutionary significant wolf population that merits appropriate taxonomic recognition," Geraldine Werhahn, lead author of the study, told Mongabay-India…the Himalayan wolf is more "distinct than many of the currently recognized subspecies of the grey wolf, hence the debate around it potentially meriting full species recognition." "The Himalayan wolf is adapted to life in the extreme high-altitude habitats of the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau and along with the snow leopard, is a top predator in this ecosystem. Predators enjoy a growing recognition for the important roles they fulfill, like maintaining ecosystem health and balance. Currently, this wolf is overlooked by science and conservation and local people are not aware that this wolf needs to be conserved and is of global relevance," added Werhahn, who is a conservation biologist at the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) at the Zoology department of the University of Oxford. The study is a collaborative project between researchers from the U.K., Nepal, Spain, Kyrgyzstan and the U.S.

https://www.ecowatch.com/himalayan-wolves-species-conservation-2635828255.html

 

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