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The conservation genetics juggling act: Integrating genetics and ecology, science and policy

November 16, 2015

The field of conservation genetics, when properly implemented, is a constant juggling act integrating molecular genetics, ecology, and demography with applied aspects concerning managing declining species or implementing conservation laws and policies. This young field has grown substantially since the 1980’s following development of the polymerase chain reaction and now into the genomics era. Our lab has “grown up” with the field, having worked on these issues for over three decades. Our multi-disciplinary approach entails understanding the behavior and ecology of species as well as the underlying processes that contribute to genetic viability. Taking this holistic approach provides a comprehensive understanding of factors that influence species persistence and evolutionary potential while considering annual challenges that occur throughout their life cycle. As a federal lab, we are often addressing the needs of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in their efforts to list, de-list or recover species. Nevertheless, there remains an overall communication gap between research geneticists and biologists who are charged with implementing their results. Therefore, we outline the need for a National Center for Small Population Biology to ameliorate this problem and provide organizations charged with making status decisions firmer ground from which to make their critical decisions. 

Publication Year 2016
Title The conservation genetics juggling act: Integrating genetics and ecology, science and policy
DOI 10.1111/eva.12337
Authors Susan M. Haig, Mark P. Miller, Renee Bellinger, Hope M. Draheim, Dacey Mercer, Thomas D. Mullins
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Evolutionary Applications
Index ID 70159607
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center