Genetic factors in threatened species recovery plans on three continents

Jennifer C. Pierson*, David J. Coates, J. Gerard B. Oostermeijer, Steven R. Beissinger, Jason G. Bragg, Paul Sunnucks, Nathan H. Schumaker, Andrew G. Young

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    74 Citations (Scopus)


    Around the world, recovery planning for threatened species is being applied in an attempt to stem the current extinction crisis. Genetic factors linked to small population processes (eg inbreeding, loss of genetic diversity) play a key role in species viability. We examined how often genetic factors are considered in threatened species recovery planning. We selected recent species recovery plans from Europe (n = 110), North America (the US only; n = 100), and Australia (n = 108), and reviewed three broad categories of genetic data they address: population-genetic, fitness-related, and life-history data. We found that the host country, taxonomic group to which the species belonged, and several proposed management actions were important predictors of the inclusion of genetic factors. Notably, species recovery plans from the US were more likely to include genetic issues, probably due to legislative requirements. We recommend an international standard, similar to an IUCN Red List framework, that requires explicit consideration of genetic aspects of long-term viability.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)433-440
    Number of pages8
    JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


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