Science Inventory

Genetic factors in Threatened Species Recovery Plans on three continents


Pierson, J., D. Coates, J. Oostermeijer, S. Beissinger, J. Bragg, P. Sunnucks, N. Schumaker, M. Trotter, AND A. Young. Genetic factors in Threatened Species Recovery Plans on three continents. FRONTIERS IN ECOLOGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT. Ecological Society of America, Ithaca, NY, 14(8):443-440, (2016).


The EPA is responsible for evaluating the impacts that pesticides have on endangered species. Such impacts can be short-term (and principally demographic in nature), or they can be longer term, or both. The long-term stability of a population is often derived in part from genetic richness, including the spatial distribution of alleles that confer resilience to stress, and adaptability to novel disturbance regimes. This paper examines the incorporation of genetic information into existing species recovery plans, and concludes that these data and techniques are under-represented in the existing conservation literature. The authors conclude that the next generation of threatened species recovery plans will need to do a better job of merging demographic and genetic analyses in order to evaluate both short- and long-range threats to population viability.


Threatened species' recovery planning is applied globally to stem the current species extinction crisis. Evidence supports a key role of genetic processes, such as inbreeding depression, in determining species viability. We examined whether genetic factors are considered in threatened species recovery planning. We selected ~ 100 Species Recovery Plans from each of Europe, USA, and Australia (n=318), and reviewed three broad categories of genetic data: 1) population-genetic, 2) fitness-related, and 3) life history. We found the host country, taxonomic group to which the species belonged, and some management options to be important predictors of the inclusion of genetic factors. Notably, Species Recovery Plans from the USA were more likely to consider genetic factors, probably due to the legislative requirements. We recommend an international standard, similar to a IUCN Red List framework, of explicitly considering genetic aspects of long-term viability.

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 10/03/2016
Record Last Revised: 10/27/2016
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 330590