P-12: A Genetic Rescue from the New King of the Mountain

Male | Born 2007 | Alive

This male is significant in a couple of major ways. First captured in late fall of 2008 in the Simi Hills, he crossed south of the 101 Freeway in 2009 near Liberty Canyon (it’s not clear whether he crossed over the surface of the freeway or used the existing road underpass). That was huge news, since the 101 Freeway is a major movement barrier, essentially trapping lions in the Santa Monica Mountains on an island of habitat and severely limiting genetic diversity. P-12, carrying new genetic material from north of the freeway, could make a huge impact, if only he would mate. And boy did he ever, giving scientists an example of what they call a genetic rescue. P-12’s arrival ushered in a new era, essentially becoming the new king of the mountains as P-1’s presence dissipated. Though his radio collar no longer works, biologists continue to find evidence that he survives, either via remote camera images or from his offspring. As of October 2015, researchers have documented eight litters of kittens that he has fathered, although some of the positive impacts from the new genetic material have been mitigated by the fact that he has limited mating options and has bred with one of his daughters (twice!) and a granddaughter (twice!).

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Last updated: August 23, 2018

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