The Florida panther once roamed widely in the southeastern United States. The number of Florida panthers was drastically reduced due to loss of habitat, hunting, and even collisions with automobiles. By the 1970s, the estimated number of Florida panthers had shrunk to only six.
Which of the following describes the most likely next stage in this situation?


The Florida panther, with its drastically reduced numbers, was subject to the bottleneck effect, in which a reduced population must survive by inbreeding and is consequently much more vulnerable to the effects of certain alleles than usual. This frequently results in genetic defects in the population. This is in fact what happened to the Florida panther. While it has avoided extinction, its population now has certain genetic defects including a hole in the heart.

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