A Role for Molecular Genetics in Biological Conservation
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
The recognition of recent accelerated depletion of species as a consequence of human industrial development has spawned a wide interest in identifying threats to endangered species. In addition to ecological and demographic perils, it has become clear that small populations that narrowly survive demographic contraction may undergo close inbreeding, genetic drift, and loss of overall genomic variation due to allelic loss or reduction to homozygosity. I review here the consequences of such genetic depletion revealed by applying molecular population genetic analysis to four endangered mammals: African cheetah, lion, Florida panther, and humpback whale. The accumulated genetic results, combined with physiological, ecological, and ethological data, provide a multifaceted perspective of the process of species diminution. An emerging role of population genetics, phylogenetics, and phylogeography as indicators of a population's natural history and its future prognosis provides valuable data of use in the development of conservation management plans for endangered species.
O'Brien, Stephen J.. 1994. "A Role for Molecular Genetics in Biological Conservation." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 91, (13): 5748-5755. http://nsuworks.nova.edu/cnso_bio_facarticles/230