Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-59b7f5684b-z9m8x Total loading time: 0.267 Render date: 2022-09-25T08:59:23.302Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": false, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true

9 - The role of ancient DNA in conservation biology

from Molecular approaches and applications

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 July 2015

Giorgio Bertorelle
Affiliation:
Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Italy
Michael W. Bruford
Affiliation:
Cardiff University
Heidi C. Hauffe
Affiliation:
Edmund Mach Foundation, Trento, Italy
Annapaolo Rizzoli
Affiliation:
Edmund Mach Foundation, Trento, Italy
Cristiano Vernesi
Affiliation:
Edmund Mach Foundation, Trento, Italy
Jon Beadell
Affiliation:
Smithsonian Institution
Yvonne Chan
Affiliation:
Stanford University
Robert Fleischer
Affiliation:
Smithsonian Institution
Get access

Summary

INTRODUCTION

A central goal of conservation is the maintenance of ecosystems, species or populations at their current state, or the restoration of biological systems to some former state. In cases of recent ecological collapse, such as the decline of a population due to the introduction of disease or an invasive competitor, or due to over-hunting or habitat destruction, we may have monitored the process from start to finish and the former state may be sufficiently well-described to give us a target for restoration. In most cases, though, serious monitoring only begins after a decline is identified, and only anecdotal evidence is available to guide our reconstruction of the past. In addition, the mechanisms that have driven changes in ecosystems are typically unknown. Are these changes the result of natural processes acting over many millennia, or has human activity drastically altered the natural trajectory? The recent application of genetics to conservation has allowed us to describe more fully the current status of populations by quantifying such properties as levels of inbreeding, effective population sizes, levels of genetic variation, and gene flow (Fleischer 1998; DeSalle and Amato 2004). Through the application of coalescent models, population genetics has also given us insight into the historical status of populations, whether such properties as size and growth of a population have changed and on what time scale these changes have occurred. Unfortunately, the stochastic nature of the coalescent process and the effects of selection often impair our ability to confidently reconstruct historical states. With the relatively recent development of ancient DNA (aDNA) techniques, however, we can now step directly backwards in time to characterize historical genetic diversity and to better understand the processes that have generated current levels of genetic diversity and population structure. Our ability to travel back in time using aDNA has allowed us to view conservation issues with a broader temporal perspective and has provided a better framework for understanding the impact of humans in shaping contemporary animal populations.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
1
Cited by

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×