Hanson JO, Veríssimo A, Velo-Antón G, Marques A, Camacho-Sanchez M, Martínez-Solano Í, Gonçalves H, Sequeira F, Possingham HP, Carvalho SB


Protected-area systems should conserve intraspecific genetic diversity. Because genetic data require resources to obtain, several approaches have been proposed for generating plans for protected-area systems (prioritizations) when genetic data are not available. Yet such surrogate-based approaches remain poorly tested. We evaluated the effectiveness of potential surrogate-based approaches based on microsatellite genetic data collected across the Iberian Peninsula for 7 amphibian and 3 reptilian species. Long-term environmental suitability did not effectively represent sites containing high genetic diversity (allelic richness). Prioritizations based on long-term environmental suitability had similar performance to random prioritizations. Geographic distances and resistance distances based on contemporary environmental suitability were not always effective surrogates for identification of combinations of sites that contain individuals with different genetic compositions. Our results demonstrate that population genetic data based on commonly used neutral markers can inform prioritizations, and we could not find an adequate substitute. Conservation planners need to weigh the potential benefits of genetic data against their acquisition costs.


Journal: Conservation Biology

Link: 10.1111/cobi.13602