Too simple, too complex, or just right? Advantages, challenges, and guidance for indicators of genetic diversity

Sean Hoban, Jessica M da Silva, Alice Hughes, Margaret E Hunter, Belma Kalamujić Stroil, Linda Laikre, Alicia Mastretta-Yanes, Katie Millette, Ivan Paz-Vinas, Lucia Ruiz Bustos, Robyn E Shaw, Cristiano Vernesi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Measuring genetic diversity of wild species using DNA-based data remains resource intensive and time consuming for nearly all species. However, genetic assessments are needed for global conservation commitments, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, and for governments and managers to evaluate conservation progress, as well as prioritizing species and populations to preserve and recover genetic diversity (e.g., via genetic rescue). Recently, indicators were developed for tracking and reporting genetic diversity status and trends for hundreds of species. The indicators quantify two simple proxies of within-population and among-population genetic diversity and adaptive potential: small effective population size (Ne < 500) and the loss of genetically distinct populations. The indicators must balance scientific credibility, practicality, and simplicity. In the present article, we summarize the advantages of these pragmatic indicators, address critiques by scientists for simplifying assumptions and by policymakers for complexity, and propose potential solutions and next steps. We aim to support practitioners putting indicators into policy, action, legislation, and reporting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBioscience
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes

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