Inbreeding is no problem for the Iberian lynx

The Iberian lynx isn't faring very well: only about 300 animals exist in the wild, in two isolated areas in Spain. Breeding programs are being set up to save this species, but the small size of the remaining population means that there must be inbreeding.
This type of breeding program, based on inbreeding, is being watched warily by some researchers, in the belief that these programs don’t benefit the species.
A recently published study (in the journal Molecular Ecology) shows that the situation may be different for the Iberian lynx. Fossil remains demonstrate that, while the Iberian lynx has survived well, the species has not been genetically diverse for the past 50,000 years. This appears to hold out some hope for the breeding programs.

The breeding programs, however, should not be seen as the only source of hope. Conditions in Iberian lynx habitat will have to change in order to secure a future for these animals. There are two main causes for the decrease in these populations. The first is that the size of their habitat is critically limited. The second cause is that the animals’ favourite prey, rabbits, have become much more scarce in recent years, partially due to the rabbit disease Myxomatosis.

Photo source: "Programa de Conservación Ex-situ del Lince Ibérico"