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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Monitoring of species' genetic diversity in Europe varies greatly and overlooks potential climate change impacts

Pearman, Peter B.; Broennimann, Olivier; Aavik, Tsipe; Albayrak, Tamer; Alves, Paulo C.; Aravanopoulos, F. A.; Bertola, Laura D.; Biedrzycka, Aleksandra; Buzan, Elena; Cubric-Curik, Vlatka; Djan, Mihajla; Fedorca, Ancuta; Fuentes-Pardo, Angela P.; Fussi, Barbara; Godoy, Jose A.; Gugerli, Felix; Hoban, Sean; Holderegger, Rolf; Hvilsom, Christina; Iacolina, Laura;
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Genetic monitoring of populations currently attracts interest in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity but needs long-term planning and investments. However, genetic diversity has been largely neglected in biodiversity monitoring, and when addressed, it is treated separately, detached from other conservation issues, such as habitat alteration due to climate change. We report an accounting of efforts to monitor population genetic diversity in Europe (genetic monitoring effort, GME), the evaluation of which can help guide future capacity building and collaboration towards areas most in need of expanded monitoring. Overlaying GME with areas where the ranges of selected species of conservation interest approach current and future climate niche limits helps identify whether GME coincides with anticipated climate change effects on biodiversity. Our analysis suggests that country area, financial resources and conservation policy influence GME, high values of which only partially match species' joint patterns of limits to suitable climatic conditions. Populations at trailing climatic niche margins probably hold genetic diversity that is important for adaptation to changing climate. Our results illuminate the need in Europe for expanded investment in genetic monitoring across climate gradients occupied by focal species, a need arguably greatest in southeastern European countries. This need could be met in part by expanding the European Union's Birds and Habitats Directives to fully address the conservation and monitoring of genetic diversity.Comparing data on genetic monitoring efforts across Europe with the distributions of areas at species' climatic niche margins, the authors show that monitoring efforts should be expanded to populations at trailing niche margins to include genetic variation that may prove important for adaptation to ongoing climate warming.

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Nature ecology & evolution
2024, Volume: 8, number: 2, pages: 267–281 Publisher: NATURE PORTFOLIO

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