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A group of animals separated from their kin by miles of roads, crop fields and other human developments might as well be living on an isolated island in the middle of the ocean. Cut off from their neighbors, that population of animals will no longer mix with others. If the isolated group is small, this can lead to something called a genetic bottleneck, or a reduced amount of genetic variability. In difficult times or changing circumstances–climate change, natural disasters, increased hunting pressure–the lack of genetic diversity may lessen the population’s ability to adapt to external pressures.
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