A genetic insight to the population of African savannah elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the Serengeti Ecosystem, Tanzania.
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- Institutt for biologi 
African savannah elephants play a vital role in the Serengeti ecosystem with the opportunity to alter the entire ecosystem by its sheer number. Management of these animals are therefore of high importance, but little genetic research has been done thus far in the ecosystem. Their recent traumatic history of poaching serves as a template for intriguing evolutionary theories and further understanding of elephant behavior. In this study it was investigated on the genetic structure and spatial differentiation of the elephants in Serengeti using a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) marker. A widespread sample size of 55 elephants were collected in three zones of the Serengeti National Park (West, North and Seronera) and analyzed for genetic diversity. The results gave the impression of a slightly outbreeding population with no ongoing subdivision (FST = -0.04864, p = 0.92082). A total of 7 haplotypes were obtained with one clearly being dominant (78.2 %). All collected haplotypes were compared to earlier studies using the same mitochondrial marker and having a wider perspective, with samples ranging across the sub-Saharan Africa. Results show that there is a possibility that the elephants now inhabiting the Serengeti are primary descendants of Northern populations coming from Kenya and Uganda, with additional individuals giving the impression that the Serengeti elephants are a mixture of individuals with historical connections from all over sub-Saharan Africa.