Monitoring of species’ genetic diversity in Europe varies greatly and overlooks potential climate change impacts

Peter B. Pearman, Olivier Broennimann, Tsipe Aavik, Tamer Albayrak, Paulo C. Alves, F. A. Aravanopoulos, Laura D. Bertola, Aleksandra Biedrzycka, Elena Buzan, Vlatka Cubric-Curik, Mihajla Djan, Ancuta Fedorca, Angela P. Fuentes-Pardo, Barbara Fussi, José A. Godoy, Felix Gugerli, Sean Hoban, Rolf Holderegger, Christina Hvilsom, Laura IacolinaBelma Kalamujic Stroil, Peter Klinga, Maciej K. Konopiński, Alexander Kopatz, Linda Laikre, Margarida Lopes-Fernandes, Barry John McMahon, Joachim Mergeay, Charalambos Neophytou, Snæbjörn Pálsson, Ivan Paz-Vinas, Diana Posledovich, Craig R. Primmer, Joost A.M. Raeymaekers, Baruch Rinkevich, Barbora Rolečková, Dainis Ruņģis, Laura Schuerz, Gernot Segelbacher, Katja Kavčič Sonnenschein, Milomir Stefanovic, Henrik Thurfjell, Sabrina Träger, Ivaylo N. Tsvetkov, Nevena Velickovic, Philippine Vergeer, Cristiano Vernesi, Carles Vilà, Marjana Westergren, Frank E. Zachos, Antoine Guisan, Michael Bruford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Genetic monitoring of populations currently attracts interest in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity but needs long-term planning and investments. However, genetic diversity has been largely neglected in biodiversity monitoring, and when addressed, it is treated separately, detached from other conservation issues, such as habitat alteration due to climate change. We report an accounting of efforts to monitor population genetic diversity in Europe (genetic monitoring effort, GME), the evaluation of which can help guide future capacity building and collaboration towards areas most in need of expanded monitoring. Overlaying GME with areas where the ranges of selected species of conservation interest approach current and future climate niche limits helps identify whether GME coincides with anticipated climate change effects on biodiversity. Our analysis suggests that country area, financial resources and conservation policy influence GME, high values of which only partially match species’ joint patterns of limits to suitable climatic conditions. Populations at trailing climatic niche margins probably hold genetic diversity that is important for adaptation to changing climate. Our results illuminate the need in Europe for expanded investment in genetic monitoring across climate gradients occupied by focal species, a need arguably greatest in southeastern European countries. This need could be met in part by expanding the European Union’s Birds and Habitats Directives to fully address the conservation and monitoring of genetic diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Early online date15 Jan 2024
StatePublished - Feb 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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