Management of genetic biodiversity

Management of living resources have hitherto focused on short-term impacts of processes implicitly making the assumption that species remain constants in fundamental traits such as tolerance to the abiotic environment, size at maturity, spawning or flowering time, and patterns of migration. 


Biological evolution - changes in the genetic composition of organisms – is fundamental to all inherited traits of organisms, but take several generations to achieve. Once genetic changes have happened, they are much more “permanent” than non-genetic changes.


Genetic changes are expected under new regimes of climate and human exploitation of living resources and habitats. 

Which genetic changes will take place relate to the size of populations and the connectivity among populations of the same species.

How fast changes take place also relate to the population size but more to the generation time of species and the intensity of the new selection pressure. 


Changes in the genetic composition of populations and species are likely to affect composition and function of the ecosystem, and consequently the production of ecosystem goods and services.


Monitor the genetic biodiversity of populations and species over time, is a way to assess genetic changes. Moreover, knowledge on the genetic structure species, including local population sizes and connectivity among local populations, is critical to management of genetic biodiversity. Pinpointing unique genetic elements (genotypes, gene variants (alleles) etc) of importance to local adaptation are still in its infancy but analytical tools to achieve this is under rapid development.


Step-by-step guide to a first approach in genetic management


Step 1: Which species are you interested in? 


Step 2: What is the genetic structure of this species


Kerstin Johannesson, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Responsible editor: Kerstin Johannesson, University of Gothenburg, Sweden 
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