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Conservation Genetics

Frühjahrssemester (jährlich wiederkehrende Veranstaltung)


R. Holderegger, M. C. Fischer, F. Gugerli, A. Widmer


Genetic and evolutionary argumentation is an outstanding feature of modern conservation biology. The module equips students with the necessary background knowledge on the benefits of conservation genetics and its applications in practice. The module introduces several main theories of conservation genetics and then shows how they impact on practical work in conservation management. The module aims at a critical discussion of the role and limits of genetics in conservation and also shows where science is lacking behind practice - and vice-versa. Both animals and plants are treated.


Genetic diversity as part of biodiversity; adative genetic diversity; effects of small population size: genetic drift, inbreeding and inbreeding depression; gene flow, fragmentation and connectivity; hybridization.

Specific topics
(1) What is conservation genetics; biodiversity and genetic diversity; extinction vortex; basic introduction to genetic methods.
(2) Small population size; genetic drift; inbreeding and inbreeding depression; methods to estimate inbreeding and inbreeding depression.
(3) Adapative genetic diversity; neutral versus adaptive genetic variation; methods to measure adaptive genetic variation; genome scans; QTLs; candidate genes; problems and open questions.
(4) Gene flow, migration and dispersal; how to measure (historical and contemporary) gene flow; fragmentation and connectivity.
(5) Hybridization; gene introgression; gene flow across species boundaries; crops and wild relatives.
(6) Full day excursion; practical example of conservation genetics; discussion and evaluation.
(7) Examination.