Neutral Theory Is the Foundation of Conservation Genetics.

Published

Journal Article

Kimura's neutral theory of molecular evolution has been essential to virtually every advance in evolutionary genetics, and by extension, is foundational to the field of conservation genetics. Conservation genetics utilizes the key concepts of neutral theory to identify species and populations at risk of losing evolutionary potential by detecting patterns of inbreeding depression and low effective population size. In turn, this information can inform the management of organisms and their habitat providing hope for the long-term preservation of both. We expand upon Avise's "inventorial" and "functional" categories of conservation genetics by proposing a third category that is linked to the coalescent and that we refer to as "process-driven." It is here that connections between Kimura's theory and conservation genetics are strongest. Process-driven conservation genetics can be especially applied to large genomic data sets to identify patterns of historical risk, such as population bottlenecks, and accordingly, yield informed intuitions for future outcomes. By examining inventorial, functional, and process-driven conservation genetics in sequence, we assess the progression from theory, to data collection and analysis, and ultimately, to the production of hypotheses that can inform conservation policies.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Yoder, AD; Poelstra, JW; Tiley, GP; Williams, RC

Published Date

  • June 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 35 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 1322 - 1326

PubMed ID

  • 29669008

Pubmed Central ID

  • 29669008

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1537-1719

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0737-4038

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/molbev/msy076

Language

  • eng