Call for a paradigm shift in the genetic management of fragmented populations

Katherine Ralls*, Jonathan D. Ballou, Michele R. Dudash, Mark D.B. Eldridge, Charles B. Fenster, Robert C. Lacy, Paul Sunnucks, Richard Frankham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

109 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Thousands of small populations are at increased risk of extinction because genetics and evolutionary biology are not well-integrated into conservation planning–a major lost opportunity for effective actions. We propose that if the risk of outbreeding depression is low, the default should be to evaluate restoration of gene flow to small inbred populations of diploid outbreeding organisms that were isolated by human activities within the last 500 years, rather than inaction. We outline the elements of a scientific-based genetic management policy for fragmented populations of plants and animals, and discuss the reasons why the current default policy is, inappropriately, inaction.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12412
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalConservation Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • coancestry
  • fragmented populations
  • genetic rescue
  • evolutionary rescue
  • genetic management
  • kinship
  • outbreeding depression
  • species delineation

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