Although fitness of individuals is evolutionary in nature, and adaptation to changing environments can occur very rapidly, until recently, evolutionary genetic variation has been under the radar in conservation planning. Only a few percent of threatened species plans contain actions aimed to manage genetic diversity, despite genetic diversity being recognized by the IUCN as one of three levels of biodiversity. However, this picture is changing fast, owing to new thinking and ever-accelerating ability to obtain useful genetic data quickly and cost-effectively. The talk will explore why and how decisions can be made about genetic management of wildlife species, with examples encompassing two ongoing research programs on genetic rescue of threatened species, and a study of a little bird that is full of big surprises.
Prof Paul Sunnucks
Persistence and Research Team, School of Biological Sciences, Monash University
By happy accident, Paul’s training led him to the intersection between conservation biology and evolutionary genetics. A Zoology degree at Oxford University was followed by a PhD at University College London applying genetic markers to understanding animal population biology. This prepared him for joining one of the first conservation genetics groups in the world, at the Institute of Zoology, London, applying genetics for conservation of endangered species. Since that exciting time, his career has been spent in Australia with many national and international collaborators, applying genetic and evolutionary thinking to conservation of threatened species. He works closely with wildlife management agencies and other biodiversity stakeholders, participating in threatened species policy and planning. He has an inordinate fondness for all lifeforms, and with >20 PhD graduates has enjoyed working with ~ 100 species. Having promised himself to never write a book, his first was Frankham et al. (2017) Genetic Management of Fragmented Animal and Plant Populations, the second was Frankham et al. (2019) A Practical Guide for Genetic Management of Fragmented Animal and Plant Populations, and he is about to start on a third.