Conservation Biology: Evolution in Action

Conservation Biology: Evolution in Action

Conservation Biology: Evolution in Action

Conservation Biology: Evolution in Action

Synopsis

The main goal of this book is to encourage and formalize the infusion of evolutionary thinking into mainstream conservation biology. It reviews the evolutionary foundations of conservation issues, and unifies conceptual and empirical advances in evolutionary conservation biology. The book can be used either as a primary textbook or as a supplementary reading in an advanced undergraduate or graduate level course - likely to be called Conservation Biology or in some cases Evolutionary Ecology. The focus of chapters is on current concepts in evolution as they pertain to conservation, and the empirical study of these concepts. The balanced treatment avoids exhaustive reviews and overlapping duplication among the chapters. Little background in genetics is assumed of thereader.

Excerpt

At no time in the nearly four billion years since the origin of life on earth has our planet seen such tremendous environmental change. Even the major mass extinctions in prehuman earth history (Raup & Sepkoski, 1982) are mere blips in comparison with the current biodiversity crisis. Human actions and impacts such as the elimination, fragmentation, and conversion of habitats; mass poisoning; overharvesting; species introductions; and climate change dramatically alter the local and global carrying capacities of other species. But they also do more. By modifying the challenges organisms face, and the resources they have to address those challenges, we are altering the conditions under which behavioral and physiological traits are expressed and in which ecological interactions occur. These changes affect the selective environments encountered by organisms, influencing evolutionary dynamics, which in turn feed back to affect ecological dynamics. Conservation problems are thus eco-evolutionary in nature, rather than just ecological, demographic, or genetic (Kinnison & Hairston, 2007). This ecoevolutionary nature of responses to environmental change is the focus of this book.

There is thus a clear and present need to develop practical approaches to managing our biodiversity problems that consider a role of evolution occurring during the time frame of the conservation program. Evolutionary theory is the predictive core of the biological sciences, and it provides the foundation for designing new and integrative strategies. Central to our perspective is the discovery that a great many organisms, from microbes to trees, are rapidly evolving in response to their changing environments. As risks and resources change in form, distribution, and abundance, they create new niches, affect competition, add or subtract enemies, and generally recast the landscape for surviving taxa. Selection is now operating in new directions and at new intensities, and the degree to which populations respond adaptively can determine their capacity to persist. Moreover, adaptive evolution, emerging from the demographic and genetic chaos suffered by “refugee taxa,” may prove to be of foremost importance in altering the form and structure of species, interspecific interactions, and communities in the coming years, decades, and millennia.

If heretofore unanticipated, widespread evolution is itself a major component of global change. Static models—those that treat the ecological players as passive bystanders in the ecological play— are now obsolete. Understanding and managing ongoing adaptation to global change requires new perspectives to accommodate, exploit, and manage evolutionary processes of conservation concern, which include population structuring and the pace and extent of gene flow, the maintenance and expression of phenotypic polymorphisms and plasticity, niche specialization versus generalism, costs versus benefits of harvesting and of genetic . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.