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Phylogenetic approaches

Phylogenetic approaches - What do we preserve What IS a...

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Phylogenetic approaches to conservation biology have received a lot of attention. This follows directly from the general concern about Biodiversity . To properly appreciate and understand biodiversity, we must have a sense of phylogenetic structure of the taxa involved. This applies to broad levels of organization (soil bacteria, plants, animals) as well as to smaller taxonomic units (populations within species). Molecular systematic approaches have been of great use since many new techniques can be applied without harming wild individuals, and can even be applied to museum skins for historical comparisons. In the context of the Endangered Species Act several important issues come up: What is the phylogenetic relationship of the endangered species? How much and what type of genetic variation (gene trees)?
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Unformatted text preview: What do we preserve? What IS a species? Any genetically distinct entity has evolutionary potential . Two case studies: The Dusky seaside sparrow : The species declined in the 1960's; by 1980 only 6 birds remained that wereall male . A captive breeding program was initiated and captive Scott's seaside sparrow was chosen as the females. When the last male Dusky died Avise & Nelson analyzed its mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and found that the Dusky and Scott's seaside sparrows were members of different clades on the phylogeny of these sparrows. The implication is that more detailed phylogenetic knowledge of the endangered species would have lead to different management decisions in handling this captive breeding program (choosing a different species to mate to the Dusky)...
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