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Next-generation metrics for monitoring genetic erosion within populations of conservation concern

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G. Leroy, E. L. Carroll, M. W. Bruford, J. A. DeWoody, A. Strand, L. Waits, J. Wang

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Genetic erosion is a major threat to biodiversity because it can reduce fitness and ultimately contribute to the extinction of populations. Here, we explore the use of quantitative metrics to detect and monitor genetic erosion. Monitoring systems should not only characterize the mechanisms and drivers of genetic erosion (inbreeding, genetic drift, demographic instability, population fragmentation, introgressive hybridization, selection) but also its consequences (inbreeding and outbreeding depression, emergence of large effect detrimental alleles, maladaptation and loss of adaptability). Technological advances in genomics now allow the production of data the can be measured by new metrics with improved precision, increased efficiency and the potential to discriminate between neutral diversity (shaped mainly by population size and gene-flow) and functional/adaptive diversity (shaped mainly by selection), allowing the assessment of management-relevant genetic markers. The requirements of such studies in terms of sample size and marker density largely depend on the kind of population monitored, the questions to be answered and the metrics employed. We discuss prospects for the integration of this new information and metrics into conservation monitoring programmes.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalEvolutionary Applications
VolumeEarly View
Early online date22 Nov 2017
StateE-pub ahead of print - 22 Nov 2017

    Research areas

  • Conservation, Monitoring, Genomics, Effective population size, Inbreeding, Adaptation, SNP

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