In DepthConservation Biology

Genomics guides help for dwindling species

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Science  19 Jul 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6450, pp. 210
DOI: 10.1126/science.365.6450.210

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Summary

The expanding global human footprint is dividing the world's flora and fauna into ever-smaller, more isolated populations that could wink out because of inbreeding, disease, or environmental change. For decades, conservationists have proposed revitalizing those holdouts by bringing in new blood from larger populations. But they've wondered whether it really works—and how to do it without swamping the genetic identity and unique adaptations of the group at risk. Researchers have now harnessed genomics tools and modeling to provide the insights needed to do genetic rescue right. With long-term studies of Florida scrub jays and guppies, they have documented the positive effects of adding new blood to small populations. And a modeling study suggests this new blood should come from medium-size populations. Sometimes, though, as in the case of island foxes, genetic rescue might not be the best solution.

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