Combining genetic and demographic data for prioritizing conservation actions: insights from a threatened fish species
Article first published online: 9 JUL 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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Ecology and Evolution
Volume 3, Issue 8, pages 2696–2710, August 2013
How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2013; 3(8): 2696–2710
- Issue published online: 12 AUG 2013
- Article first published online: 9 JUL 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 19 MAY 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 16 MAY 2013
- Manuscript Received: 17 JAN 2013
- Commission of the European Communities, specific RTD programme "IWRMNET"
- conservation genetics;
- demographic survey;
- Parachondrostoma toxostoma ;
- species distribution models;
- temporal trends
Prioritizing and making efficient conservation plans for threatened populations requires information at both evolutionary and ecological timescales. Nevertheless, few studies integrate multidisciplinary approaches, mainly because of the difficulty for conservationists to assess simultaneously the evolutionary and ecological status of populations. Here, we sought to demonstrate how combining genetic and demographic analyses allows prioritizing and initiating conservation plans. To do so, we combined snapshot microsatellite data and a 30-year-long demographic survey on a threatened freshwater fish species (Parachondrostoma toxostoma) at the river basin scale. Our results revealed low levels of genetic diversity and weak effective population sizes (<63 individuals) in all populations. We further detected severe bottlenecks dating back to the last centuries (200–800 years ago), which may explain the differentiation of certain populations. The demographic survey revealed a general decrease in the spatial distribution and abundance of P. toxostoma over the last three decades. We conclude that demo-genetic approaches are essential for (1) identifying populations for which both evolutionary and ecological extinction risks are high; and (2) proposing conservation plans targeted toward these at risk populations, and accounting for the evolutionary history of populations. We suggest that demo-genetic approaches should be the norm in conservation practices.