Genetic Monitoring for Managers



This Genetic Monitoring for Managers website has been developed as part of the Genetic Monitoring (GeM) Working Group, co-led by Drs. Fred Allendorf and Michael Schwartz. The website is being hosted here in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Conservation Genetics Laboratory, Alaska Region and the Conservation Genetics Community of Practice ( This site provides a broad and dynamic resource for both managers and researchers who are interested in using molecular genetic methods to address their informational needs. This site has been developed in cooperation with experts in a range of genetic fields, including demographic parameter estimation, invasive species detection and monitoring, range estimation, evolutionary biology, sample preservation, and assessing genetic population structure and connectivity. The GeM for Managers website provides, with minimal jargon, information on current technologies such as genetic markers and analytical tools, recent examples of genetic research for a wide range of applications, a comprehensive glossary, an extensive literature list, and other resources. Unlike the published literature, the GeM for Managers website can be easily updated with information such as new methods and ongoing research, plus it allows the user to immediately access related online resources.

This work was conducted as part of the GeM Working Group, jointly supported by the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS).

Genetics has become an integral part of species' management thanks to rapid improvements in sampling, laboratory, and statistical methodologies, as well as reduced costs. Genetic information offers a wealth of opportunities for assessing and monitoring plant and animal populations in all environments, from aquatic to terrestrial systems. As such, genetic methods have numerous applications in the practical management and conservation of populations and species.

Today, genetic information can be used for:

• Assessing a species' distribution
• Estimating population abundance or sex ratio
• Evaluating habitat connectivity
• Estimating the degree to which subpopulations are isolated
• Confirming presence of a species that is difficult to detect
• Monitoring abundance
• Monitoring changes in genetic variability
• Investigating likely adaptation responses to climate change

This website provides natural resource managers with current knowledge about GeM, and gives examples of how genetic methods have been used to meet a variety of monitoring objectives.

This website provides natural resource managers with current knowledge about genetic monitoring (GeM), and gives examples of how genetic methods have been used to meet a variety of monitoring objectives. We describe proper techniques for collecting and archiving genetic material and provide practical information on criteria for selecting a laboratory to conduct genetic analyses. The glossary and references are geared toward managers who do not have a genetics background.

The types of information genetic monitoring can provide can be divided into three broad categories:

• Traditional monitoring where genetic information is used to identify individuals, populations, species, or other taxonomic groups, to determine status and trends within and between populations.

• Monitoring adaptive responses of populations to such forces as climate change and over harvest.

• Monitoring of genetic information itself, such as allele frequencies, genetic diversity, or effective population size, and population genetic structure.

We will refer to these two categories throughout this site, especially when describing examples of using genetics to achieve different monitoring objectives. Details of each are found under Types of GeM.

Last Updated: October 27, 2011