Conservation genetics in the recovery of endangered animal species: A review of US endangered species recovery plans (1977-1998)
The utility of genetic data in conservation efforts, particularly in comparison to demographic information, is the subject of ongoing debate. Using a database of information surveyed from 181 US endangered and threatened species recovery plans, we addressed the following questions concerning the use of genetic information in animal recovery plans: I. What is the relative prominence of genetic vs. demographic data in recovery plan development? and, II. When are genetic factors viewed as a threat, and how do plans respond to genetic threats? In general, genetics appear to play a minor and relatively ill-defined part in the recovery planning process; demographic data are both more abundant and more requested in recovery plans, and tasks are more frequently assigned to the collection/monitoring of demographic rather than genetic information. Nonetheless, genetic threats to species persistence and recovery are identified in a substantial minority (22 %) of recovery plans, although there is little uniform response to these perceived threats in the form of specific proposed recovery or management tasks. Results indicate that better guidelines are needed to identify how and when genetic information is most useful for species recovery; we highlight specific contexts in which genetics may provide unique management information, beyond that provided by other kinds of data.
Moyle, LC; Stinchcombe, JR; Hudgens, BR; Morris, WF
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