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Integrating approaches towards the conservation of forest genetic resources: a case study of Araucaria angustifolia

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Abstract

In the past years the conservation of forest genetic resources has been widely recognized because of the risk of adverse effects associated with global changes in the environment. Since little effort has been made towards conservation of these resources, the assessment and the integration of information and knowledge so far generated are valuable tools in order to promote their conservation. In the present work the Brazilian conifer Araucaria angustifolia was used as a case study, integrating information, published between 1980 and 2007, about genetics, biotechnology, palaeobotany, and archeology. These studies were interpreted towards the conservation needs and strategies of the species germplasm. The main conclusions for the conservation of A. angustifolia genetic resources are: (1) despite the reduction of genetic diversity by unsustainable forest exploitation, the genetic system of A. angustifolia seems to be efficient to protect this species against rapid losses of its genetic diversity; (2) conservation measures starting now may be efficient, since the genetic structures of existing populations is more largely influenced by the past evolutionary process than by human disturbance occurred in the last century; (3) there are opportunities to save the genetic resources of the species, if simple measures are taken to safeguard the continued existence of the few remaining araucaria forests. Emerged as a general conclusion that the use of sound scientific arguments supported by different areas of the science could be a very powerful instrument in persuading decision-makers, also by governments, taking into account forest genetic resources as a primary issue for the future.

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Acknowledgments

The research was supported by a Post-Doctoral grant from CNPq/Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology to VMS. NS, MPG, and RON thanks to CNPq for grants and fellowships.

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Stefenon, V.M., Steiner, N., Guerra, M.P. et al. Integrating approaches towards the conservation of forest genetic resources: a case study of Araucaria angustifolia . Biodivers Conserv 18, 2433–2448 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-009-9600-z

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