Most species are not driven to extinction before genetic factors impact them

Spielman, Derek, Brook, Barry W., and Frankham, Richard (2004) Most species are not driven to extinction before genetic factors impact them. National Academy of Sciences. Proceedings, 101 (42). pp. 15261-15264.

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Abstract

There is controversy concerning the role of genetic factors in species extinctions. Many authors have asserted that species are usually driven to extinction before genetic factors have time to impact them, but few studies have seriously addressed this issue. If this assertion is true, there will be little difference in genetic diversity between threatened and taxonomically related nonthreatened species. We compared average heterozygosities in 170 threatened taxa with those in taxonomically related nonthreatened taxa in a comprehensive metaanalysis. Heterozygosity was lower in threatened taxa in 77% of comparisons, a highly significant departure from the predictions of the no genetic impact hypothesis. Heterozygosity was on average 35% lower (median 40%) in threatened taxa than in related nonthreatened ones. These differences in heterozygosity indicate lowered evolutionary potential, compromised reproductive fitness, and elevated extinction risk in the wild. Independent evidence from stochastic computer projections has demonstrated that inbreeding depression elevates extinction risk for threatened species in natural habitats when all other threatening processes are included in the models. Thus, most taxa are not driven to extinction before genetic factors affect them adversely.

Item ID: 6940
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
ISSN: 1091-6490
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2010 05:14
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0604 Genetics > 060499 Genetics not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 309
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