Genetic variation in Sri Lankan leopards

S. Miththapala, J. Seidensticker, Lyndsay Phillips, K. L. Goodrowe, S. B.U. Fernando, L. Forman, S. J. O'brien

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15 Scopus citations


Electrophoretic variation of 50 gene‐enzyme systems was typed in a population of 33 captive leopards (Panthera pardus) from the island of Sri Lanka. The captive leopard population was composed of several lineages: (1) wild‐caught leopards of the island subspecies (P. p. kotiya), (2) captive‐born animals of the same subspecies, (3) a melanistic lineage whose founders were obtained from Malaysia (P. p. delacouri), and (4) leopards of known mixed lineage and unknown status. Two loci, APRT and PGD, were polymorphic in all samples, whereas 48 loci were invariant. Percent polymorphism (P) and percent average heterozygosity (H) were calculated as 4% and 1.4%, respectively, for the wild‐caught leopards; 4% and 1.2% for the captive‐born kotiya leopards; and 4% and 2.0% for the melanistic lineage. The overall results revealed a detectable decrease in genetic variability compared with a previous study of captive leopards from mainland origins. The mainland leopards had three additional polymorphic loci, ADA, ESI, and HBB. Reexamination of the TF locus using a revised protocol resolved a new allele in the sample of mainland leopards but not in the Sri Lankan sample. With this new polymorphism, recalculated P and H values for the mainland sample are 10% and 3.1%, respectively. No significant differences in polymorphic loci were observed between the leopard subspecies examined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-146
Number of pages8
JournalZoo Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • APRT
  • Panthera pardus kotiya
  • PGD
  • polymorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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