Planning for optimal conservation of geographical genetic variability within species
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Systematic Conservation Planning (SCP) involves a series of steps that should be accomplished to determine the most cost-effective way to invest in conservation action. Although SCP has been usually applied at the species level (or hierarchically higher), it is possible to use alleles from molecular analyses at the population level as basic units for analyses. Here we demonstrate how SCP procedures can be used to establish optimum strategies for in situ and ex situ conservation of a single species, using Dipteryx alata (a Fabaceae tree species widely distributed and endemics to Brazilian Cerrado) as a case study. Data for the analyses consisted in 52 alleles from eight microsatellite loci coded for a total of 644 individual trees sampled in 25 local populations throughout species’ geographic range. We found optimal solutions in which seven local populations are the smallest set of local populations of D. alata that should be conserved to represent the known genetic diversity. Combining these several solutions allowed estimating the relative importance of the local populations for conserving all known alleles, taking into account the current land-use patterns in the region. A germplasm collection for this species already exists, so we also used SCP approach to identify the smallest number of populations that should be further collected in the field to complement the existing collection, showing that only four local populations should be sampled for optimizing the species ex situ representation. The initial application of the SCP methods to genetic data showed here can be a useful starting point for methodological and conceptual improvements and may be a first important step towards a comprehensive and balanced quantitative definition of conservation goals, shedding light to new possibilities for in situ and ex situ designs within species.
KeywordsComplementarity Conservation planning Optimization Cerrado Hotspot Dipteryx alata
We thank two anonymous reviewers for suggestions that improved initial version of this manuscript. Our research program integrating macroecology and molecular ecology of plants and the DTI fellowship to G.O. has been continuously supported by several grants and fellowships to the research network GENPAC (Geographical Genetics and Regional Planning for natural resources in Brazilian Cerrado) from CNPq/MCT/CAPES (projects # 564717/2010-0 and 563624/2010-8) and by the “Núcleo de Excelência em Genética e Conservação de Espécies do Cerrado”—GECER (PRONEX/FAPEG/CNPq CP 07-2009). Field work has been supported by Systema Naturae Consultoria Ambiental LTDA. Work by J.A.F.D.-F., M.P.C.T., L.J.C., R.G.C. and R.D.L. have been continuously supported by productivity fellowships from CNPq, and work by D.B.M. and J.S.S. by fellowships by CAPES.
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