Wisent
Overview
The wisent Bison bonasus, also known as the European bison or European wood bison, is a species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

n bison
Bison
Members of the genus Bison are large, even-toed ungulates within the subfamily Bovinae. Two extant and four extinct species are recognized...

. It is the heaviest surviving land animal
Terrestrial animal
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land , as compared with aquatic animals, which live predominantly or entirely in the water , or amphibians, which rely on a combination of aquatic and terrestrial habitats...

 in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

; a typical wisent is about 2.1 to 3.5 m (6.9 to 11.5 ft) long, not counting a tail of 30 to 60 cm (11.8 to 23.6 in) long, and 1.6 to 2 m (5.2 to 6.6 ft) tall. Weight typically can range from 300 to 920 kg (661.4 to 2,028.3 lb), with an occasional big bull to 1000 kg (2,204.6 lb) or more.
Encyclopedia
The wisent Bison bonasus, also known as the European bison or European wood bison, is a species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

n bison
Bison
Members of the genus Bison are large, even-toed ungulates within the subfamily Bovinae. Two extant and four extinct species are recognized...

. It is the heaviest surviving land animal
Terrestrial animal
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land , as compared with aquatic animals, which live predominantly or entirely in the water , or amphibians, which rely on a combination of aquatic and terrestrial habitats...

 in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

; a typical wisent is about 2.1 to 3.5 m (6.9 to 11.5 ft) long, not counting a tail of 30 to 60 cm (11.8 to 23.6 in) long, and 1.6 to 2 m (5.2 to 6.6 ft) tall. Weight typically can range from 300 to 920 kg (661.4 to 2,028.3 lb), with an occasional big bull to 1000 kg (2,204.6 lb) or more. It averages slightly lighter in weight that the American Bison
American Bison
The American bison , also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds...

 (Bison bison), and has shorter hair on the neck, head and forequarters, but longer tail and horns.

Wisent were hunted to extinction in the wild, but they survived in Białowieża Forest, straddling the border between Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 and Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, until the 1920s and have since been reintroduced from captivity into several countries in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

, all descendants of the Białowieża or lowland wisent. They are now forest-dwelling. They have few predators (besides humans), with only scattered reports from the 19th century of wolf and bear
Bear
Bears are mammals of the family Ursidae. Bears are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, with the pinnipeds being their closest living relatives. Although there are only eight living species of bear, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern...

 predation. Wisent were first scientifically described by Carolus Linnaeus
Carolus Linnaeus
Carl Linnaeus , also known after his ennoblement as , was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy, and is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology...

 in 1758. Some later descriptions treat the wisent as conspecific with the American bison
American Bison
The American bison , also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds...

. It is not to be confused with the aurochs
Aurochs
The aurochs , the ancestor of domestic cattle, were a type of large wild cattle which inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa, but is now extinct; it survived in Europe until 1627....

, the extinct ancestor of domestic cattle.

In 1996 the IUCN classified the wisent as an endangered species
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

. It has since been downgraded to a vulnerable species
Vulnerable species
On 30 January 2010, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species identified 9694 Vulnerable species, subspecies and varieties, stocks and sub-populations.-References:...

. In the past it was commonly killed to produce hides
Hides
A hide is an animal skin treated for human use. Hides include leather from cattle and other livestock animals, alligator skins, snake skins for shoes and fashion accessories and furs from wild cats, mink and bears. In some areas, leather is produced on a domestic or small industrial scale, but most...

 and drinking horn
Drinking horn
A drinking horn is the horn of a bovid used as a drinking vessel. Drinking horns are known from Classical Antiquity especially in Thrace and the Balkans, and remained in use for ceremonial purposes throughout the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period in some parts of Europe, notably in Germanic...

s, especially during the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

.

Etymology

The modern English word is borrowed from modern German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 Wisent (ˈviːzɛnt), which comes from Germanic
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 *wisund (cf. Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 visundr, Old High German
Old High German
The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

 wisunt); the Old English
Old English language
Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

 word wesend from this root became extinct in premodern times.

The Latin "bison" is borrowed from the same Germanic
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 word.

History

Historically, the lowland wisent's range encompassed all of western, central and southeastern Europe, extending to the Volga River
Volga River
The Volga is the largest river in Europe in terms of length, discharge, and watershed. It flows through central Russia, and is widely viewed as the national river of Russia. Out of the twenty largest cities of Russia, eleven, including the capital Moscow, are situated in the Volga's drainage...

 and the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

. It may have once lived in the Asiatic part of what is now the Russian Federation. Its range decreased as human populations expanded cutting existing forests, the process proceeding from the west, south and the north. The first population to be extirpated
Local extinction
Local extinction, also known as extirpation, is the condition of a species which ceases to exist in the chosen geographic area of study, though it still exists elsewhere...

 was that of Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 in the 8th century AD. The wisent became extinct in northern Sweden in the 11th century, and southern England in the 12th. The species survived in the Ardennes
Ardennes
The Ardennes is a region of extensive forests, rolling hills and ridges formed within the Givetian Ardennes mountain range, primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg, but stretching into France , and geologically into the Eifel...

 and the Vosges
Vosges
Vosges is a French department, named after the local mountain range. It contains the hometown of Joan of Arc, Domrémy.-History:The Vosges department is one of the original 83 departments of France, created on February 9, 1790 during the French Revolution. It was made of territories that had been...

 until the 15th century.

Wisent survived in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

, although they slowly had been losing their numbers there as well. For example, the last wisent in Transylvania
Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

 died in 1790. In Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, in Białowieża Forest, wisent were legally the property of the Polish kings until the Third partition of Poland
Third Partition of Poland
The Third Partition of Poland or Third Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth took place in 1795 as the third and last of three partitions that ended the existence of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.-Background:...

. However, there were also wild wisent herds in Poland's eastern frontier lands until the mid-17th century. Polish kings took measures to protect their wisent. King Sigismund II Augustus
Sigismund II Augustus
Sigismund II Augustus I was King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, the only son of Sigismund I the Old, whom Sigismund II succeeded in 1548...

 instituted the death penalty for poaching
Poaching
Poaching is the illegal taking of wild plants or animals contrary to local and international conservation and wildlife management laws. Violations of hunting laws and regulations are normally punishable by law and, collectively, such violations are known as poaching.It may be illegal and in...

 a wisent in Bialowieza in the mid-16th century. In the early 19th century the new lords of Bialowieza, Russian czars, retained old Polish laws protecting the wisent herd in Bialowieza. Despite these measures and others, the wisent population continued to decline over the following century, with only Bialowieza and Northern Caucasus populations surviving into the 20th century.

Most Bialowieza wisent became victims of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, with German troops occupying Bialowieza killing 600 of the animals for sport, meat, hides, and horns. A German scientist brought to the attention of army officers that the animals were facing imminent extinction, but at the very end of the war, retreating German soldiers shot all but 9 wisent. The last wild wisent in Poland was killed in 1919, and the last wild wisent in the world was killed by poachers in 1927 in the western Caucasus
Western Caucasus
The Western Caucasus is a western region of the Caucasus in Southern Russia, extending from the Black Sea to Mount Elbrus.-World Heritage Site:...

. By that year fewer than 50 remained, all in zoo
Zoo
A zoological garden, zoological park, menagerie, or zoo is a facility in which animals are confined within enclosures, displayed to the public, and in which they may also be bred....

s.

To help manage this captive population, Dr. Heinz Heck
Heinz Heck
Heinz Heck was a German biologist and director of zoo in Munich . Heck worked on the breeding back projects of the Heck Horse, which strove to recreate the Tarpan , and the Heck Cattle, which was to recreate the aurochs, both of which...

 commenced the first studbook for a non-domestic species; first as a card index from 1923 with a full publication in 1932.

Differences from American bison

Although superficially similar, there are a number of physical and behavioral differences between the wisent and the American bison
American Bison
The American bison , also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds...

. The Wisent has 14 pairs of ribs, while the American Bison has 15. Adult wisents are taller than American bison, and have longer legs. Wisents tend to browse
Browsing (predation)
Browsing is a type of herbivory in which an herbivore feeds on leaves, soft shoots, or fruits of high growing, generally woody, plants such as shrubs. This is contrasted with grazing, usually associated with animals feeding on grass or other low vegetation...

 more, and graze
Grazing
Grazing generally describes a type of feeding, in which a herbivore feeds on plants , and also on other multicellular autotrophs...

 less than their American cousins, due to their necks being set differently. Compared to the American bison, the nose of the wisent is set further forward than the forehead when the neck is in a neutral position. The body of the wisent is less hairy, though its tail is hairier than that of the American species. The horns of the wisent point forward through the plane of their faces, making them more adept at fighting through the interlocking of horns in the same manner as domestic cattle, unlike the American bison, which favours charging. European bison are less tameable than their American cousins, and breed with domestic cattle less readily.

Social structure and territorial behaviours

The wisent is a herd animal, which lives in both mixed and solely-male groups. Mixed groups consist of infants, young aged 2–3 years, calves and young adult bulls. The average herd size is dependent on environmental factors, though on average, they number 8-13 animals per herd. Herds consisting solely of bulls are smaller than mixed ones, containing two individuals on average. Wisent herds are not family units. Different herds frequently interact, combine and quickly split after exchanging individuals.

Territory held by bulls is correlated by age, with young bulls aged between 5–6 tending to form larger home ranges than older males. The wisent does not defend territory, and herd ranges tend to greatly overlap. Core areas of territory are usually sited near meadows and water sources.

Reproduction

The rutting season occurs from August through to October. Bulls aged 4–6 years, though sexually mature, are prevented from mating by older bulls. Cows usually have a gestation period of 264 days, and typically give birth to one calf at a time.

On average, male calves weigh 27.6 kg (60.8 lb) at birth, and females 24.4 kg (53.8 lb). Body size in males increases proportionately to the age of 6 years. While females have a higher increase in body mass in their first year, their growth rate is comparatively slower than that of males by the age of 3–5. Bulls reach sexual maturity at the age of two, while cows do so in their third year.

Diet

Wisent feed predominantly on grass
Grass
Grasses, or more technically graminoids, are monocotyledonous, usually herbaceous plants with narrow leaves growing from the base. They include the "true grasses", of the Poaceae family, as well as the sedges and the rushes . The true grasses include cereals, bamboo and the grasses of lawns ...

es although they will also browse on shoots and leaves
Leaves
-History:Vocalist Arnar Gudjonsson was formerly the guitarist with Mower, and he was joined by Hallur Hallsson , Arnar Ólafsson , Bjarni Grímsson , and Andri Ásgrímsson . Late in 2001 they played with Emiliana Torrini and drew early praise from the New York Times...

; in summer months, an adult male can consume 32 kilograms of food in a day. Wisent in the Bialowieza Forest in Poland have traditionally been fed hay in the winter for centuries, and vast herds may gather around this diet supplement. Wisent need to drink every day and in winter can be seen breaking ice with their heavy hooves. Despite their usual slow movements, wisent are surprisingly agile and can clear three metre wide streams or two metre high fences from a standing start.

Conservation

The protection of the wisent has a long history; between the 15th and 18th century those in the Forest of Białowieża were protected and their diet supplemented. Efforts to restore this species to the wild began in 1929, with the establishment of the Bison Restitution Centre at Białowieża, Poland. Subsequently, in 1948, the Bison Breeding Centre was established within the Prioksko-Terrasny Biosphere Reserve. On April 24, 2011 five bison were introduced in Pleistocene Park
Pleistocene Park
Pleistocene Park is a nature reserve south of Chersky in the Sakha Republic in northeastern Siberia, where an attempt is being made to recreate the northern steppe grassland ecosystem that flourished in the area during the last ice age.-Goals:...

 a project of recreating the steppe ecosystem altered 10,000 years ago

Reintroduction

Wisent were reintroduced
Reintroduction
Reintroduction is the deliberate release of a species into the wild in zones formerly inhabited by said species but where it has disappeared from for a number of reasons, from captivity or relocated from other areas where the species still survives in...

 successfully into the wild, beginning in 1951. Białowieża Forest in Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 and Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 is home to 800 wild wisent. They are also found in forest preserves in the Western Caucasus
Western Caucasus
The Western Caucasus is a western region of the Caucasus in Southern Russia, extending from the Black Sea to Mount Elbrus.-World Heritage Site:...

.

Free-ranging herds are found in Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

, Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

, Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

, Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan , officially the Kyrgyz Republic is one of the world's six independent Turkic states . Located in Central Asia, landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east...

, Moldova
Moldova
Moldova , officially the Republic of Moldova is a landlocked state in Eastern Europe, located between Romania to the West and Ukraine to the North, East and South. It declared itself an independent state with the same boundaries as the preceding Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991, as part...

 (since 2005), and in Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 (since 2010). There are plans to re-introduce two herds in western Germany
Western Germany
The geographic term Western Germany is used to describe a region in the west of Germany. The exact area defined by the term is not constant, but it usually includes, but does not have the borders of, North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse...

  and in Oostvaardersplassen
Oostvaardersplassen
The Oostvaardersplassen is a nature reserve in the Netherlands, covering about . Despite having developed recently it already has international importance as a European wetland....

 Nature Reserve in Flevoland
Flevoland
Flevoland is a province of the Netherlands. Located in the centre of the country, at the location of the former Zuiderzee, the province was established on January 1, 1986; the twelfth province of the country, with Lelystad as its capital...

 (Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

). Zoos in 30 countries also have quite a few animals. There were 3,000 individuals (as of 2000), all descended from only 12 individuals. Because of their limited genetic pool, they are considered highly vulnerable to illnesses like foot and mouth disease.

More details

Wisent have lived as long as 30 years in captivity, although in the wild their lifespan is shorter. Productive breeding years are between four and 20 years of age in females, and only between six and 12 years of age in males. Wisent occupy home ranges of as much as 100 km² (38.6 sq mi) and some herds are found to prefer meadows and open areas in forests.

Wisent can cross-breed with American bison
American Bison
The American bison , also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds...

. The products of a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 interbreeding program were destroyed after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. This programme was related to the impulse which created the Heck cattle
Heck cattle
Heck Cattle are a hardy breed of domestic cattle. They are the result of an attempt to breed back the aurochs, which became extinct in 1627, from modern aurochs-derived cattle...

. The cross-bred individuals created at other zoos were eliminated from breed books by the 1950s. A Russian back-breeding program resulted in a wild herd of hybrid animals, which presently lives in the Caucasian Biosphere Reserve (550 individuals in 1999).

There are also wisent-cattle hybrids. Cattle and wisent can hybridise fairly readily, but the calves cannot be born naturally (birth is not triggered correctly by the first-cross hybrid calf, and they must therefore be delivered by Caesarian section). In 1847, a herd of wisent-cattle hybrids named żubroń
Zubron
Żubroń is a hybrid of domestic cattle and wisent. The wisent is the European bison; hence, the żubroń is analogous to the American beefalo...

 was created by Leopold Walicki. The animals were intended to become durable and cheap alternatives to cattle. The experiment was continued by researchers from the Polish Academy of Sciences
Polish Academy of Sciences
The Polish Academy of Sciences, headquartered in Warsaw, is one of two Polish institutions having the nature of an academy of sciences.-History:...

 until the late 1980s. Although the program resulted in a quite successful animal that was both hardy and could be bred in marginal grazing lands, it was eventually discontinued. Currently the only surviving żubroń herd consists of just a few animals in Białowieża Forest, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

.
The modern herds are managed as two separate lines – one consisting of only Bison bonasus bonasus (all descended from only seven animals) and one consisting of all 12 ancestors including the one Bison bonasus caucasicus bull. Only a limited amount of inbreeding depression
Inbreeding depression
Inbreeding depression is the reduced fitness in a given population as a result of breeding of related individuals. It is often the result of a population bottleneck...

 from the population bottleneck
Population bottleneck
A population bottleneck is an evolutionary event in which a significant percentage of a population or species is killed or otherwise prevented from reproducing....

 has been found, having a small effect on skeletal growth in cows and a small rise in calf mortality. Genetic variability continues to shrink. From five initial bulls, all current wisent bulls have one of only two remaining Y-chromosome
Y chromosome
The Y chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes in most mammals, including humans. In mammals, it contains the gene SRY, which triggers testis development if present. The human Y chromosome is composed of about 60 million base pairs...

s.

See also

  • American Bison
    American Bison
    The American bison , also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds...

  • Aurochs
    Aurochs
    The aurochs , the ancestor of domestic cattle, were a type of large wild cattle which inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa, but is now extinct; it survived in Europe until 1627....

  • Carpathian Wisent
    Carpathian Wisent
    The Carpathian wisent was a subspecies of European bison that inhabited the Carpathian Mountains, Moldavia, and Transylvania. It may also have lived in modern-day Ukraine and Hungary....

  • Caucasian Wisent
    Caucasian Wisent
    The Caucasian Wisent was a subspecies of Wisent that inhabited the Caucasus Mountains of Eastern Europe.It was hunted by the Caspian Tiger and the Asiatic Lion in the Caucasus, as well as other predators such as wolves and bears.-Decline and extinction:In the 17th century, the Caucasian wisent...

  • Society for the Protection of the European Bison
    Society for the Protection of the European Bison
    The Society for the Protection of the European Bison was founded in 1922 by scientists from Poland, Germany, the UK, and Sweden. The charity's aims were to conserve and repopulate the European bison, or wisent, that was then on the brink of extinction...

  • Steppe Wisent
    Steppe Wisent
    The Steppe Bison or steppe wisent was a bison found on steppes throughout Europe, Central Asia, Beringia, and North America during the Quaternary...

  • Żubroń
    Zubron
    Żubroń is a hybrid of domestic cattle and wisent. The wisent is the European bison; hence, the żubroń is analogous to the American beefalo...


External links

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