Conservation Genetics

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 753–760

On applications of landscape genetics

  • Jeff Bowman
  • Janet E. Greenhorn
  • Robby R. Marrotte
  • Michelle M. McKay
  • Kimberley Y. Morris
  • Melanie B. Prentice
  • Morgan Wehtje

DOI: 10.1007/s10592-016-0834-5

Cite this article as:
Bowman, J., Greenhorn, J.E., Marrotte, R.R. et al. Conserv Genet (2016) 17: 753. doi:10.1007/s10592-016-0834-5


Recent assertions in the literature (e.g., Keller et al. 2015) suggest that landscape genetic research has been infrequently applied by practitioners. We were interested to test this assertion, which is difficult to assess, since applications may not be detectable through searches of peer-reviewed literature. Producing publications may not be a goal of practitioners. We developed a method to search the internet for evidence of research applications and evaluated 25 different research fields in the natural sciences. We found that fields with more publications also had more applications, but the field of landscape genetics was less applied than expected based on the number of peer-reviewed publications—only about 4 % of landscape genetics articles were applied. In fact, all research fields in genetics or evolutionary biology were under-applied compared to ‘whole organism’, ecological research fields. This result suggests the lack of applications in landscape genetics may be due to a systemic under-application of genetics research, perhaps related to a lack of understanding of genetics by practitioners. We did find some evidence of landscape genetic applications however, which we sorted into 5 categories: (1) identification of evolutionarily significant units for conservation, (2) managing pathogens and invasive species, (3) natural heritage systems planning, (4) assessing population status, and (5) restoration of populations.


Application Gray literature Landscape genetics Peer review Policy Practitioner Web scraping 

Supplementary material

10592_2016_834_MOESM1_ESM.docx (29 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 28 kb)

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
    Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

      Copyright information

      © Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

      Authors and Affiliations

      1. 1.Wildlife Research and Monitoring SectionOntario Ministry of Natural Resources and ForestryPeterboroughCanada
      2. 2.Environmental and Life Sciences Graduate ProgramTrent UniversityPeterboroughCanada

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