GENETIC RESCUE TOOLKIT
Genetic Rescue: A New Toolkit for Conservation
Genetic rescue spans a continuum from “insight to intervention,” and can provide critical understanding of evolutionary processes that can better inform species conservation in a rapidly changing world. Genomics can document biodiversity, inform conventional management practices, and in some cases, enable genomic interventions. Genomic technology has the potential to advance and compliment conventional conservation management with precise genetic rescue.
The tools of genetic rescue are adaptable and may be appropriate to address specific threats to marine ecosystems as well as provide powerful new monitoring insights. Different threats and ecological settings will likely be more amenable to intervention than others. Also, the extent to which different genomic tools will be appropriate, or even transformative, will vary across taxa and ecosystems. Factors for consideration include the nature of the conservation threat, the availability of genomic resources and technologies, the social and ethical implications of intervention, and the likelihood of success.
Most conservation focused genetic approaches have been limited to assessing very basic evolutionary processes such as gene flow, neutral genetic diversity, and effective population size, with little meaningful understanding of how genetic variation relates specifically to adaptation. Given the affordability of sequencing and the increasing prevalence of conservation threats potentially suited to genetic approaches, there is an opportunity to advance a suite of innovative new tools.