What is the most inbred species?

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By Rachel

Quick Peek:

Hold onto your hats, folks, because we’ve got some shocking news about the Devils Hole pupfish. This endangered species, found only in a Nevada cave, is so inbred that a whopping 58% of their genomes are identical on average. Yikes! This inbreeding can have negative effects on the health and survival of offspring, as well as the long-term viability of the population. Sadly, human activities like groundwater pumping and habitat destruction have led to the pupfish’s isolation and small population size. But don’t worry, conservationists are working hard to protect these little guys from extinction.

What is the most inbred species?

When it comes to inbreeding, the Devils Hole pupfish takes the cake. These small, endangered fish are found in just one location in the world – the Devils Hole cave in Nevada. Unfortunately, due to their isolated habitat and small population size, the pupfish have become incredibly inbred.

A recent study found that 58% of the genomes of these eight individuals are identical, on average. This is an astonishingly high level of inbreeding, and it has serious consequences for the future of the species.

The dangers of inbreeding

Inbreeding occurs when closely related individuals mate, leading to a reduction in genetic diversity. This can have negative effects on the health and survival of the offspring, as well as the long-term viability of the population.

For the Devils Hole pupfish, inbreeding has led to a number of problems. One major issue is reduced fertility – inbred individuals are less likely to produce viable offspring. In addition, inbreeding can increase the risk of genetic disorders and diseases, as harmful mutations are more likely to be expressed when there is less genetic diversity.

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Why are the Devils Hole pupfish so inbred?

The Devils Hole pupfish have been isolated in their cave habitat for thousands of years, with no opportunity for gene flow from other populations. In addition, their numbers have been greatly reduced due to human activities such as groundwater pumping and habitat destruction. This combination of isolation and small population size has led to the high levels of inbreeding we see today.

Efforts are underway to try and save the Devils Hole pupfish from extinction. Conservationists are working to protect their habitat and increase their numbers through breeding programs and other interventions. However, the long-term viability of the species remains uncertain.


The Devils Hole pupfish is an extreme example of the dangers of inbreeding. As humans continue to impact the environment and reduce the habitat and population sizes of many species, it is likely that we will see more examples of inbreeding and its negative effects. It is up to us to take action to protect these vulnerable populations and ensure their long-term survival.

References for “What is the most inbred species?”

A video on this subject that might interest you:

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