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. 2016 Jun;25(11):2680-9.
doi: 10.1111/mec.13642. Epub 2016 May 11.

Hybridization and Endangered Species Protection in the Molecular Era

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Hybridization and Endangered Species Protection in the Molecular Era

Robert K Wayne et al. Mol Ecol. .

Abstract

After decades of discussion, there is little consensus on the extent to which hybrids between endangered and nonendangered species should be protected by US law. As increasingly larger, genome-scale data sets are developed, we can identify individuals and populations with even trace levels of genetic admixture, making the 'hybrid problem' all the more difficult. We developed a decision-tree framework for evaluating hybrid protection, including both the processes that produced hybrids (human-mediated or natural) and the ecological impact of hybrids on natural ecosystems. We then evaluated our decision tree for four case studies drawn from our own work and briefly discuss several other cases from the literature. Throughout, we highlight the management outcomes that our approach provides and the nuances of hybridization as a conservation problem.

Keywords: California tiger salamander; Endangered Species Act; admixture; conservation genomics; intercross policy; wolf.

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