Extinction-risk assessments play a major role in prioritizing conservation action at national and international levels. However, quantifying extinction risk is challenging, especially when including the full suite of adaptive responses to environmental change. In particular, evolutionary potential (EP), the capacity to evolve genetically based changes that increase fitness under changing conditions, has proven difficult to evaluate, limiting its inclusion in risk assessments. Theory, experiments, simulations, and field studies all highlight the importance of EP in characterizing and mitigating extinction risk. Disregarding EP can therefore result in ineffective allocation of resources and inadequate recovery planning. Fortunately, proxies for EP can be estimated from environmental, phenotypic, and genetic data. Some proxies can be incorporated into quantitative extinction-risk assessments, whereas others better inform basic conservation actions that maximize resilience to future change. Integration of EP into conservation decision-making is challenging but essential and remains an important area for innovation in applied conservation science.
|Title||Linking evolutionary potential to extinction risk: Applications and future directions|
|Authors||Brenna R. Forester, Erik A. Beever, Catherine Darst, Jennifer Szymanski, W. Chris Funk|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center|