skip to main content

Search for: All records

Award ID contains: 1754821

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. The unprecedented rate of extinction calls for efficient use of genetics to help conserve biodiversity. Several recent genomic and simulation-based studies have argued that the field of conservation biology has placed too much focus on conserving genome-wide genetic variation, and that the field should instead focus on managing the subset of functional genetic variation that is thought to affect fitness. Here, we critically evaluate the feasibility and likely benefits of this approach in conservation. We find that population genetics theory and empirical results show that conserving genome-wide genetic variation is generally the best approach to prevent inbreeding depression and lossmore »of adaptive potential from driving populations toward extinction. Focusing conservation efforts on presumably functional genetic variation will only be feasible occasionally, often misleading, and counterproductive when prioritized over genome-wide genetic variation. Given the increasing rate of habitat loss and other environmental changes, failure to recognize the detrimental effects of lost genome-wide genetic variation on long-term population viability will only worsen the biodiversity crisis.

    « less
  2. Large body size is an important determinant of individual fitness in many animal species, especially in island systems where habitat saturation may result in strong intraspecific competition for mates and breeding territories. Here we show that large body size is associated with benefits to yearling breeding and extra-pair mating in the Island Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma insularis), endemic to Santa Cruz Island, California. This species is ~20% larger than its mainland congener, consistent with the island syndrome, indicating that body size may be a trait under selection. From 2009 to 2013, we quantified the reproductive success of a marked population of Islandmore »Scrub-Jays, tracked which yearlings acquired a breeding territory and bred, and measured the occurrence of extra-pair paternity. Two potential contributors to fitness were positively related to body size. Larger yearling males were more likely to breed, possibly due to greater behavioral dominance during aggressive encounters. Larger males were also less likely to lose paternity to extra-pair males and, anecdotally, extra-pair males were larger than the social male cuckolded. This study provides evidence that larger males may have a fitness advantage over smaller males by breeding earlier and avoiding paternity loss, but estimates of lifetime reproductive success are ultimately needed for Island Scrub-Jays and other long-lived species.« less