Seminar series kick-off

November 5, 2013 at 11:00 pm


We will be kicking off our seminar series ‘Conservation Conversations’ with a great talk on “Genetics and Extinction” by Richard Frankham  (Macquarie University & Australian Museum) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW):

Title: Genetics and Extinction

Date: Friday, November 22nd.

Time: 3-4 p.m.

Place: UNSW – Kensington Campus, Biological Sciences Building (D26), Biomed Theatre A (1st floor)

Richard Frankham photo

‘Dick’ Frankham’s research, published in over 160 journal articles, features pioneering work in conservation genetics and population viability analyses. He is also the lead author of the books “Introduction to Conservation Genetics” and “A Primer of Conservation Genetics”.


The role of genetic factors in extinction has been controversial since genetics was first introduced into conservation biology in the late 1970s. I will review the evidence on the contribution of genetic factors to extinction risk. Inbreeding has deleterious effects on reproductive fitness in almost all cases for naturally outbreeding diploid and polyploid species in captivity and in the wild. Inbreeding depression and loss of genetic diversity increase extinction risk in laboratory populations of naturally outbreeding species.

Individual case studies and computer projections indicate that inbreeding depression contributes to extinction risk in outbreeding species in natural environments. In addition, most species are not driven to extinction before genetic factors have time to impact. Thus, there is now sufficient evidence to regard the major controversies regarding whether genetic factors contribute to extinction risk as resolved. Fortunately, small inbred populations with low genetic diversity can often be rescued by augmenting gene flow from other populations within their species, provided they are screened to ensure that the risk of outbreeding depression is low. If genetic factors are ignored, extinction risk will be underestimated and inappropriate recovery strategies may be used.    

We would love to see you there!