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Phylogeography of Panthera tigris in the mangrove forest of the Sundarbans

Aziz, M. Abdul, Smith, O, Jackson, Hazel, Tollington, Simon, Darlow, S, Barlow, A, Islam, MA, Groombridge, Jim J. (2022) Phylogeography of Panthera tigris in the mangrove forest of the Sundarbans. Endangered Species Research, 48 . pp. 87-97. ISSN 1863-5407. (doi:10.3354/esr01188) (KAR id:95376)


Tigers Panthera tigris in the Sundarbans represent the only population adapted to living in mangrove forest habitat. Several studies, based on limited morphological and genetic data, have described the population as being differentiated from the Bengal tiger subspecies P. tigris tigris. The phylogenetic ancestry of the Sundarbans population has also remained poorly understood. We generated 1263 bp of mtDNA sequences across 4 mtDNA genes for 33 tiger samples from the Bangladesh Sundarbans and compared these with 33 mtDNA haplotypes known from all subspecies of extant tigers. We detected 3 haplotypes within the Sundarbans tigers, of which one is unique to this population and the remaining 2 are shared with tiger populations inhabiting central Indian landscapes. Phylogenetic analyses using maximum likelihood and Bayesian inferences supported the Sundarbans tigers as being paraphyletic, indicating a close phylogenetic relationship with other populations of Bengal tigers, from which the Sundarbans population diverged around 26000 yr ago. Our phylogenetic analyses, together with evidence of ecological adaptation to the unique mangrove habitat, indicate that the Sundarbans population should be recognised as a separate management unit. We recommend that conservation management must focus on sustaining this representative tiger population adapted to mangrove habitat while at the same time recognising that trans-boundary conservation efforts through reintroduction or exchange of individuals, to enhance genetic diversity, might be needed in the future as a last resort for population recovery.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.3354/esr01188
Uncontrolled keywords: Bangladesh, Haplotype, Management unit, Phylogeny, Tiger
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (
Depositing User: Jim Groombridge
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2022 09:55 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 18:48 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Aziz, M. Abdul.

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Jackson, Hazel.

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Tollington, Simon.

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Groombridge, Jim J..

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