Managing Micro-evolution: Restoration in the Face of Global Change

Rice, K.J. and N.C. Emery

Publication Date:

Evidence is mounting that evolutionary change can occur rapidly and may be an important means by which species escape extinction in the face of global change. Consequently, biologists need to incorporate evolutionary thinking into management decisions in conservation and restoration ecology. Here, we review the genetic and demographic properties that influence the ability of populations to adapt to rapidly changing selective pressures. To illustrate how evolutionary thinking can influence conservation and restoration strategies, we compare the potential of two California plant communities (vernal pools and blue oak woodlands) to evolve in response to global change. We then suggest ways in which restoration biologists can manipulate the genetic architecture of target populations to increase their ability to adapt to changing conditions. While there may not be any universal rules regarding the adaptive potential of species, an understanding of the various processes involved in microevolution will increase the short- and long-term success of conservation and restoration efforts.

Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed Article

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment