How to make landscape genetics beneficial for conservation management?
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Many landscape genetic studies promise results that can be applied in conservation management. However, only few landscape genetic studies have been used by practitioners. Here, we identified scientific topics in landscape genetics that need to be addressed before results can more successfully be applied in conservation management. For each topic, weaknesses of common practice in landscape genetic analysis are described by presenting examples from current studies and further recommendations for improvements are outlined. First, we suggest matching the extent of the study area with those of conservation management units and the study species’ dispersal potential when designing landscape genetic studies. Second, the quality of the underlying statistical models should be optimised, and models should include variables that are useful for management implementation. Third, to further improve the applicability of landscape genetic studies, thresholds for landscape effects on gene flow should be identified. Fourth, landscape genetic models could be used for the development of conservation planning tools, which ideally also incorporate the above described thresholds. Fifth and as discussed in earlier studies, the use of multiple species and replication at the landscape scale is recommended. Although it appears that only few landscape genetic studies have been applied in practical management until now, examples presented in this article show that landscape genetic methods can provide important information to formulate concrete management implications. Thus, addressing the above-mentioned scientific topics in landscape genetic studies would enhance the benefits of their results for practitioners.
KeywordsLandscape variable selection Statistical model quality Multi-species studies Planning tools Study area extent Threshold identification
We thank the GENEREACH Project funded by the Competence Center Environment and Sustainability of the ETH Domain for financial support and two anonymous referees for comments on the manuscript.
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