Genetic diversity indicators go wild

A little follow-up on my post from a few days back on the post-2020 biodiversity framework. A letter to Science suggests that the genetic level of variation is being neglected, in particular for wild species.

The post-2020 framework should explicitly commit to maintaining genetic diversity within all species and to implementing strategies to halt genetic erosion and preserve adaptive potential of populations of both wild and domesticated species. The framework should also define indicators of progress toward this goal. Such indicators could include collecting data on the number of species, populations, or metapopulations that are large enough to maintain genetic diversity as well as those that are not. A widely used measure in this context is the “genetically effective population size,” which quantifies the rate at which a population loses genetic variation. When the effective size is measured as 500 “ideal individuals,” the population is considered “genetically safe.” We therefore suggest monitoring the number of populations above and below the genetically effective size of 500. The effective size is assessed from genetic or demographic data and is usually much lower — by about an order of magnitude — than the total number of mature individuals. Another indicator could be the number of species or populations in which genetic diversity is being monitored by national agencies or universities using DNA-markers. A third indicator could be measuring rates of loss of distinct populations within species.

Interesting to see that the crop diversity conservation community is slightly ahead of the curve on this.

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