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Type: Journal article
Title: Most species are not driven to extinction before genetic factors impact them
Author: Spielman, D.
Brook, B.
Frankham, R.
Citation: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, 2004; 101(42):15261-15264
Publisher: Natl Acad Sciences
Issue Date: 2004
ISSN: 0027-8424
Statement of
Derek Spielman, Barry W. Brook, and Richard Frankham
Abstract: There is controversy concerning the role of genetic factors in species extinctions. Many authors have asserted that species are usually driven to extinction before genetic factors have time to impact them, but few studies have seriously addressed this issue. If this assertion is true, there will be little difference in genetic diversity between threatened and taxonomically related nonthreatened species. We compared average heterozygosities in 170 threatened taxa with those in taxonomically related nonthreatened taxa in a comprehensive metaanalysis. Heterozygosity was lower in threatened taxa in 77% of comparisons, a highly significant departure from the predictions of the no genetic impact hypothesis. Heterozygosity was on average 35% lower (median 40%) in threatened taxa than in related nonthreatened ones. These differences in heterozygosity indicate lowered evolutionary potential, compromised reproductive fitness, and elevated extinction risk in the wild. Independent evidence from stochastic computer projections has demonstrated that inbreeding depression elevates extinction risk for threatened species in natural habitats when all other threatening processes are included in the models. Thus, most taxa are not driven to extinction before genetic factors affect them adversely.
Keywords: Animals
Stochastic Processes
Genetics, Population
Species Specificity
Models, Genetic
Genetic Variation
Biological Evolution
Description: © 2004 by The National Academy of Sciences
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0403809101
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Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest
Earth and Environmental Sciences publications
Environment Institute Leaders publications

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