Genetics and conservation biology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Genetics can be applied to many problems in the area of conservation biology. Four such uses are illustrated. 1) Conservation forensics, in which genetic techniques are used to aid the enforcement of laws concerning endangered species: an example of this application is the use of DNA fingerprinting to identify the geographical source of tusks as part of an effort to restrict poaching of African elephants Loxodonta africana. 2) In systematics, before a conservation program can be designed, we obviously need to know what it is we are trying to conserve. Genetic techniques are emerging as a major tool in systematics and have proven to be useful in identifying taxa that behave as independently evolving genetic lineages. An example of this is provided by studies on wild cattle species. The cattle also illustrate 3) the detection and monitoring of hybridization. 4) Genetic management of natural and captive populations of endangered species: genetic management is necessary both for the short-term health of the species (eg inbreeding depressions) and the long-term adaptive flexibility of the species (eg preserving genetic diversity) . -from Author

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-29
Number of pages15
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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