Conservation Genetics

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					Conservation Genetics

        Sam Hopkins
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    What is conservation genetics?
   Conservation genetics includes:
       Study of inbreeding in small populations
       Study of spatial patterns of genetic variation
       Study of gene flow
       Study of hybridisation
       Study of systematics
       Can start to describe the future of an endangered
   Can involve endangered taxa but often just species that will
    show us how something works
   Genetics alone will not conserve species
    What is conservation genetics?

   Conservation genetics allows conservationists to make
    informed decisions
   Conservation genetics not always the answer
       Its expensive
       Time consuming
       Interpretation is personal
    Conserving Humpback Whales 1
   Depleted by hunting
   Small populations survive in the
    North Atlantic, North Pacific and
    Southern Oceans
   Separation between populations
    in different oceanic basins
   Separation between populations in the same oceanic basin
   Geographic variation studied by looking at the
    mitochondrial DNA
   This study gives information on the Humpback but also
    may give insight into other species with high dispersal
    abilities, large distributions and social behaviours
     Using genetics to identify commercial
      products from endangered species
   Molecular genetics can identify species that are
    endangered and protected but still being bought and sold
   Often the products on the market cannot be identified by
    sight but can be identified using genetics
   E.g.. Ivory, horn, shell, meat, feathers, dried leaves
   An example of this is seen in the Whale market
        The international whaling commission allows a certain
         amount of whaling for scientific research
        These Whales can then be sold to consumers
        Often species and geographical source can be
        Genetics can tell if the products on the market are
         caught legally or illegally
      Using genetics to identify commercial
      products from endangered species 2

   Shaving brushes made from Badger
   Meant to be made from the Hog
    Badgers (Arctonyx colaris) hair
    which is an invasive species in
   Using molecular genetics the hair of four
    brushes was found to be from the Eurasian
    Badger (Meles meles) which is a protected
                      The Cats 3

   37 out of 38 species in the felid group are
    endangered or threatened
   Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) have less
    genomic variation than other cats
   The Cheetah’s ancestors underwent a severe reduction in
    numbers and inbreeding possibly several times or over a
    long period of time
   The Florida Panther has the least genetic variation of any
    puma sub-species
   All these species give us an incite into what happens when
    genetic diversity decreases which can be put to use in
    other endangered species
                 The Dogs 4
   The Simien Jackal (Canis simensis)
    is probably the most endangered
   There are fewer than 500 individuals
    left and they are in isolated populations
   Restricted to the Ethiopian highlands
   Habitat loss and fragmentation has restricted the Simien
    Jackal still more
   In one study on the population from the Bale Mountain
    National Park there was only one mitochondrial genotype
   Another problem is their ability to hybridise with domestic
        The Dogs 4
   The Red Wolf
    (Canis rufus)
   Was found in the south
    central United States
   Extinct in the wild since
   Single captive
   The origins of the species
    are questionable
   Genetic tests have assisted in making decisions when
    considering re-introductions
                         The Birds 5
   The Island of Guam had the
    brown tree snake introduced and
    the native species of birds have
    been in trouble ever since
   The Guam Rail (Rallus owstoni)
    and the Micronesian Kingfisher
    (Halcyon cinnamomina) are
    extinct in the wild
   Genetic analysis has helped to
    manage matings by looking at
    relatedness among the captive
   The results show low genetic
    diversity but none of this has
    been lost since the species have
    been taken into captivity
                     Marine Turtles 6
   There are seven species alive today and all are endangered
    or threatened
   Molecular genetics has helped establish some natural
    history and evolution that is beneficial to conservation
   As with the Whales discussed earlier Green, Loggerhead
    and Hawksbill turtles return to the same rookery (egg laying
   Using genetic analysis this has been shown to be the
    turtles returning to their beach of birth
          Endemic plants 7
   Spreading Avens (Geum radiatum)
    is a perennial herb that is found
    only on a few mountain tops in
    North Carolina and Tennessee
   In 1991 there were 16 populations
   Now there are 11
   Extinction is being caused by
    human trampling
   Four of the other populations are
   The government want to restore
    the numbers of the plant in one of
    the declining populations, genetic
    analysis will help with the answer
                         Pelagic Fish 8
   The Billfish group contains Swordfish,
    Marlins, Sailfish and Spearfish
   These fish are commercially exploited
    and their numbers have decreased
   It was not known if these animals were
    moving about the sea as distinct populations
    or whether they were a continuous population
   Molecular genetics have been
    used to find some answers
   The Striped and Blue Marlin both
    show within ocean population
    differences even though they travel
    great distances
   This should shape future
    conservation plans
     Komodo Dragons 9
   Large reptile
   Endemic to 5 islands in South
    East Indonesia
   Threatened by habitat
    destruction and competition
    by humans
   Genetic diversity of five
    populations on four of the
    islands studied
   Island of Komodo had the greatest diversity
   Island of Komodo has been separated from other land
    masses for the longest period
   Makes Komodo population important to conserve
           Corroboree Frogs 10
   Restricted range in Southern
    Highlands of New South Wales and
    the Australian Capital territory
   Three geographically isolated populations
       Snowy Mountains
       Fiery Range
       Brindabella Range
   Snowy mountain population has decreased heterozygosity
    and an absence of rare alleles
   May cause the population to struggle to respond to climate
1. Baker, C. S. and Palumbi, S. R.(1996) Population structure, Molecular
   systematics and forensic identification of Whales and Dolphins. In:
   Avise, J. C. and Hamrick, J editors. Conservation Genetics: Case
   Histories From Nature pp 10-41
2. Domingo- Roura, X. et al. (2006). Badger hair in shaving brushes
   comes from protected Eurasian Badgers. Biological Conservation 128:
3. O’Brian, S. J. (1996) Conservation Genetics of the Felidae In: Avise, J.
   C. and Hamrick, J. editors. Conservation Genetics, Case Histories
   From Nature pp50-71
4. Wayne, R. K. (1996)Conservation Genetics of the Canidae. In: Avise,
   J. C. and Hamrick, J. editors. Conservation Genetics, Case Histories
   From Nature pp 75-112
5. Haig, S. M. and Avise, J. C. (1996) Avian Conservation Genetics. In:
   Avise, J. C. and Hamrick, J. editiors. Conservation Genetics, Case
   Histories From Nature pp 160-184
6. Bowen, B. W. and Avise, J. C. (1996) Conservation genetics of marine turtles.
    In: Avise, J. C. and Hamrick, J. editors. Conservation Genetics, Case Histories
    From Nature pp 190-230
7. Hamrick, J. L. and Godt, M. J. W. (1996) Conservation genetics of endemic
    plant species. In: Avise, J. C. and Hamrick J. editors Conservation Genetics,
    Case Histories From Nature pp 281-302
8. Graves, J. E. (1996) Conservation Genetics of Fishes in the Pelagic Marine
    Realm. In: Avise, J. C. and Hamrick, J. editors Conservation Genetics, Case
    Histories From Nature pp 335-362
9. Ciofi, et al. (1999). Genetic divergence and units for conservation in the
    Komodo Dragon Varanus komodoensis. Proceeding of the Royal Society of
    London B. 266: 2269-2274
10. Osborne, W. S. and Norman, J. A. (1991). Conservation Genetics of
    Corroboree frogs, Pseudophryne corroboree More (Anura: Myobatrachidad):
    Population sub-division and genetic divergence. Australian Journal of Zoology
    39: 285-297

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