Special Session: Conservation genetics comes of age in Africa

In this session a range of conservation genetic studies and lessons from across Africa of relevance to the practice of nature conservation will be presented.

Illegal hunting and habitat fragmentation have reduced the size and connectivity of wild populations across Africa. These (mainly) anthropogenic forces lead to small and isolated pockets of biodiversity within the protected areas of the continent. These negative demographic changes also affect the underlying genetic diversity of native species, which could negatively influence their survival. Small populations lose genetic diversity at a higher rate, and without connectivity, they are unable to naturally replenish their genetic diversity.

Knowledge of a population’s genetic diversity is therefore highly beneficial to the conservation manager. This information can help establish baseline levels of genetic diversity and how this diversity is structured across the landscape, thus providing a framework of management units of differing levels of conservation priority. Managers can also use this framework to monitor levels of diversity, decide how best to replenish diversity in particularly affected populations (usually through translocation), and even monitor whether these translocated migrants have made effective contributions since their arrival.

Recent advances in genome sequencing technologies and large data processing now give geneticists the opportunity to explore in more detail the link between genetic diversity and population survival and adaptability. Using genomics, trancriptomics and epigenomics, it is possible to determine a population’s genetically coded adaptations to local environmental conditions, thus opening up new opportunities to guide the planning of conservation programmes.

In this session, we will present a range of studies from across Africa that highlight how genetic and genomics knowledge of wildlife populations can be used to benefit their conservation.

Open session – researchers and practitioners are encouraged to submit relevant presentations for inclusion in this session. Participation in the session during the Symposium is open to all. Submissions that cannot be incorporated into the session by the convener will be considered for general sessions in the remainder of the programme.

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Normal payment deadline
extended to
Tues 23 October!!

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