pp 1-35 | Cite as

Genomics for Genetic Rescue

  • Sarah W. FitzpatrickEmail author
  • W. Chris Funk
Part of the Population Genomics book series


Genetic rescue, where new alleles cause increased population growth, has successfully reversed population declines in several iconic species. Concerns over outbreeding depression and genomic swamping limit this technique’s application in wildlife management. New genomic approaches can improve the implementation and monitoring of genetic rescue, making it an even more effective management strategy. In planning stages, genomics can help identify populations that would benefit most from augmented gene flow and populations and individuals that would be the best sources. After augmented gene flow, genomics can be used to monitor the outcome of genetic rescue and determine if and when additional gene flow is needed. Here, we outline specific ways in which genomics can be used to (1) test for inbreeding and inbreeding depression; (2) predict the probability that gene flow will cause outbreeding depression versus genetic rescue; (3) monitor the results of assisted gene flow; and (4) determine the genetic architecture underlying genetic rescue to improve future attempts. We conclude by outlining recommendations on how genomic data can be used to improve the effectiveness of genetic rescue and reduce uncertainty about its outcome.


Fitness Gene flow Genetic drift Genetic rescue Inbreeding depression Population genomics Small populations 



Absolute fitness

Mean number of offspring per capita, measured as population growth rate or abundance.

Assisted gene flow

Managed movement of individuals into populations to reduce local maladaptation to climate or other environmental change.

Demographic rescue

An increase in population growth caused by the addition of new individuals.

Evolutionary rescue

An increase in population growth resulting from adaptation to otherwise extinction-causing environmental stress from standing genetic variation, de novo mutation, or gene flow.

Genetic load

The reduction in mean fitness of members of a population owing to deleterious genes, or gene combinations, in the population.

Genetic rescue

An increase in population growth owing to immigration of new alleles beyond the demographic contribution of immigrants themselves.

Genetic restoration

An increase in genetic variation and relative, but not absolute, fitness owing to immigration of new alleles.

Identical by descent (IBD)

A matching segment of DNA shared by two or more individuals that has been inherited from a common ancestor without any intervening recombination.


Mating between related individuals which results in an increase of homozygosity in the progeny because they possess alleles that are identical by descent.

Inbreeding depression

The relative reduction in fitness of progeny from matings between related individuals compared with progeny from unrelated individuals.

Outbreeding depression

Reduced fitness of offspring from matings between genetically divergent individuals.

Runs of homozygosity (ROH)

Stretches of homozygous genotypes at mapped SNPs.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, Department of Integrative Biology, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior ProgramMichigan State UniversityHickory CornersUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Graduate Degree Program in EcologyColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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