Three Subspecies of Snow Leopard Revealed

There are 3 opposite subspecies of a sleet leopard (Panthera uncia), a world’s many fugitive immeasurable large cat, according to a new investigate published in a Journal of Heredity.

According to Janecka et al, a sleet leopard (Panthera uncia) is indeed 3 opposite subspecies. Image credit: Dingopup / The Cat Survival Trust / CC BY-SA 3.0.

According to Janecka et al, a sleet leopard (Panthera uncia) is indeed 3 opposite subspecies. Image credit: Dingopup / The Cat Survival Trust / CC BY-SA 3.0.

The sleet leopard is many closely associated to a tiger (Panthera tigris), carrying diverged over 2 million years ago.

It inhabits a immeasurable area of 0.6 million sq.miles (1.6 million opposite 12 countries in Asia.

It is a high-altitude animal that occupies plateau essentially between 0.9 and 2.8 miles (1.5-4.5 km), with reliable sightings to 3.7 miles (6 km) in a Himalayas. This segment is characterized by low oxygen levels, heat extremes, aridity, low productivity, and oppressive climatic condition, nonetheless harbors many sold species.

The sleet leopard is a largest carnivore in a medium in many areas, and faces threats including low chase densities, retaliatory murdering by farmers and herdsmen in response to stock depredation, bootleg wildlife trade, meridian change, and growth of roads, rails, mining, and hydropower facilities.

Presently, a International Union for Conservation of Nature considers a sleet leopard a monotypic species.

But new DNA justification shows that during slightest 3 subspecies of a animal exist.

“We conducted a initial range-wide genetic comment of sleet leopards shaped on noninvasive scat surveys,” pronounced lead author Dr. Jan Janecka, an partner highbrow during Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA, and co-authors.

“We performed scat samples from 21 localities in 7 geographic regions. A sum of 70 deputy people were genotyped during 33 microsatellite loci.”

The team’s research suggested 3 vital groups unchanging with a geographic placement of sampled localities.

“Specifically, a sleet leopards from a Tibetan Plateau (northern Qinghai, southern Qinghai, and Tibet) and a principal apportionment of a Himalaya (Bhutan and Nepal) clustered together into a ‘Central group,’ a sleet leopards from Western Himalaya (India), Karakorum, Pamir, Alay and Tian Shan (Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan) shaped a ‘Western group,’ and those from Altai (western Mongolia) and Southern Gobi (southern Mongolia) shaped a ‘Northern group’,” a authors said.

“Accordingly, we commend 3 subspecies, Panthera uncia irbis (Northern group), Panthera uncia uncia (Western group), and Panthera uncia uncioides (Central group) shaped on genetic distinctness, low levels of admixture, evident race assignment, and geographic separation.”

The patterns of movement among a sleet leopard subspecies advise a ‘barrier effect’ due to a dried basins in a area, with a northern subspecies removed by a Gobi Desert and a executive and western class divided by a trans-Himalayas.

“This investigate is critical as it provides a initial glance of how sleet leopard populations are structured and connected, in a nutshell, populations that are connected with other populations, are some-more fast and have a larger possibility of persisting,” Dr. Janecka said.

“Delineating subspecies provides dual categorical benefits:

(i) a initial is a improved bargain of a expansion and ecology of a species;

(ii) a second is that it enables some-more stretchable charge measures, so skeleton can be grown specific to a hurdles faced within a sold region.”

“Our investigate highlights a need for transboundary initiatives to strengthen this species, and other wildlife in Asia,” he said.


Jan E. Janecka et al. Range-Wide Snow Leopard Phylogeography Supports Three Subspecies. Journal of Heredity, published online May 4, 2017; doi: 10.1093/jhered/esx044