New technology in conservation genetics has many implications for the future of conservation biology. At the molecular level, new technologies are advancing. Some of these techniques include minisatellites and MHC. These molecular techniques have wider effects from clarifying taxonomic relationships, as in the previous example, to determining the best individuals to reintroduce to a population for recovery by determining kinship. These effects then have consequences that reach even further. Conservation of species has implications for humans in the economic, social, and political realms. In the biological realm increased genotypic diversity has been shown to help ecosystem recovery, as seen in a community of grasses which was able to resist disturbance to grazing geese through greater genotypic diversity. Because species diversity increases ecosystem function, increasing biodiversity through new conservation genetic techniques has wider reaching effects than before.
A short list of studies a conservation geneticist may research include:
- Phylogenetic classification of species, subspecies, geographic races, and populations, and measures of phylogenetic diversity and uniqueness.
- Identifying hybrid species, hybridization in natural populations, and assessing the history and extent of introgression between species.
- Population genetic structure of natural and managed populations, including identification of Evolutionary Significant Units (ESUs) and management units for conservation.
- Assessing genetic variation within a species or population, including small or endangered populations, and estimates such as effective population size (Ne).
- Measuring the impact of inbreeding and outbreeding depression, and the relationship between heterozygosity and measures of fitness (see Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection).
- Evidence of disrupted mate choice and reproductive strategy in disturbed populations.
- Forensic applications, especially for the control of trade in endangered species.
- Practical methods for monitoring and maximizing genetic diversity during captive breeding programs and re-introduction schemes, including mathematical models and case studies.
- Conservation issues related to the introduction of genetically modified organisms.
- The interaction between environmental contaminants and the biology and health of an organism, including changes in mutation rates and adaptation to local changes in the environment (e.g. industrial melanism).
- New techniques for noninvasive genotyping.
Read more about this topic: Conservation Genetics
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