Compromising genetic diversity in the wild: unmonitored large-scale release of plants and animals

Trends Ecol Evol. 2010 Sep;25(9):520-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2010.06.013. Epub 2010 Aug 3.


Large-scale exploitation of wild animals and plants through fishing, hunting and logging often depends on augmentation through releases of translocated or captively raised individuals. Such releases are performed worldwide in vast numbers. Augmentation can be demographically and economically beneficial but can also cause four types of adverse genetic change to wild populations: (1) loss of genetic variation, (2) loss of adaptations, (3) change of population composition, and (4) change of population structure. While adverse genetic impacts are recognized and documented in fisheries, little effort is devoted to actually monitoring them. In forestry and wildlife management, genetic risks associated with releases are largely neglected. We outline key features of programs to effectively monitor consequences of such releases on natural populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild / genetics*
  • Biodiversity*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Plants / genetics*