What we’re reading: Jan 16, 2015

How Life-History Theory can Inform Conservation Biology
It is an unfortunate truth that the resources available for biodiversity conservation are finite, which leads to difficult decisions about how best to allocate those resources. Often choices need to be made between different conservation solutions, but it can be difficult to evaluate those choices. This essay (sub) suggests that conservationists could learn much about framing, quantifying and evaluating conservation trade-offs from evolutionary theory.

Identifying Conservation Units below the Species Level
Often conservation management is needed below the species level, for example to target resources towards conservation of a threatened subspecies or population. In these cases it is important to define the intraspecific groups that are in need of separate management. The “designatable unit” (DU) provides one means to identify discrete units of biodiversity below the species level. The Lake Whitefish (Coregonus spp.) constitute a diverse and geographically widespread species complex. In this paper (open), 36 DUs are identified within this species complex based on reproductive isolation, phylogeography, local adaptation, and biogeographic regions. The identification of DUs enables biologically-sensible recommendations to be made about conservation priorities.

Public Attitudes Towards Tiger Farming in China
This article (sub) surveyed citizens and students in Beijing, China about their attitudes towards the uses, threats, and conservation measures related to trade in tiger parts. The authors found overall low support for the use of tigers in medicine and as status symbols. They also found low support for using tiger farms as a conservation measure, where respondents instead supported nature reserves and legislative action. Interestingly, they observed that the students were more pro-tiger conservation than the broader citizenry.

Types of DNA Sequencing Errors
All DNA sequencing methods are prone to errors, although types and rates of error vary with the technology used. Obviously it is important to understand the degree of uncertainty you face in your DNA sequencing data. This paper reviews the types of errors encountered and the likely sources of uncertainty.

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