What We’re Reading – Jan 26, 2018

Temporal Genotyping for Conservation Monitoring
This paper advocates using museum specimens to quantify recent losses of genetic diversity in species of conservation concern.  The authors note that older demographic processes leave a signature on genetic diversity that can be difficult to distinguish from recent changes.  Thus they show how using temporal sampling allows researchers to understand how recent habitat fragmentation or active management have changed genome-wide diversity on top of older background signals.  The obvious challenge here is the availability of collections both for species and geographic sites of interest, but where available, temporal sampling could increase our understanding of genetic diversity and present options for contemporary management of populations.

A Call for Active Management of Genetic Diversity
This new think piece (open) advocates for the active management of genetic diversity, particularly for species that exist in fragmented populations with little to no gene flow.  Essentially this is the next in a number of pieces highlighting that concerns for out-breeding depression have been exaggerated.  The result being that translocations of breeding individuals from other populations into low genetic diversity populations are not on the table as a management option, and thus potentially hastens the extinction vortex.  The authors argue that this sort of active management could greatly help fragmented populations.  They present a decision tree, and discuss salient points related to taxonomy, evolutionary significant units, and local adaptation when thinking about genetic diversity management.

Side photo of mountain pygmy-possum (Burramys parvus), a critical endangered marsupial, by Linda Broome via ARKive.  Active genetic management of populations has aided conservation efforts of this species.


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