Stress and adaptation in conservation genetics

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176 Citations (Scopus)


Stress, adaptation and evolution are major concerns in conservation biology. Stresses from pollution, climatic changes, disease etc. may affect population persistence. Further, stress typically occurs when species are placed in captivity. Threatened species are usually managed to conserve their ability to adapt to environmental changes, whilst species in captivity undergo adaptations that are deleterious upon reintroduction into the wild. In model studies using Drosophila melanogaster, we have found that; (a) inbreeding and loss of genetic variation reduced resistance to the stress of disease, (b) extinction rates under inbreeding are elevated by stress, (c) adaptive evolutionary potential in an increasingly stressful environment is reduced in small population, (d) rates of inbreeding are elevated under stressful conditions, (e) genetic adaptation to captivity reduces fitness when populations are reintroduced into the 'wild', and (f) the deleterious effects of adaptation on reintroduction success can be reduced by population fragmentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)750-755
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005


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