Efficiency of Conservation Management Methods for Subdivided Populations under Local Adaptation

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Computer simulations were used to investigate the efficiency of management methods for the conservation of a structured population when local adaptation exists. A subdivided population, with subpopulations adapted to different optima for a quantitative trait under stabilizing selection, was managed in order to maintain the highest genetic diversity in a 10-generation period. Two procedures were compared. For the first, minimum coancestry contributions were carried out independently for each subpopulation, and random migration of individuals was accomplished thereafter. For the second, minimum coancestry contributions from individuals were globally implemented, including an optimal migration design. This optimal method can be adjusted to control local inbreeding to different extents. Adaptation to local optima implies a reduction in the efficiency of the management methods because of the effective failure in the established migrations. For strong selection, the optimal design can be very inefficient, even more than the random migration scheme because the intended migrants have usually low fitness in the recipient subpopulations. However, for more realistic moderate or weak selection, the optimal method is more efficient than random migration, especially if inbreeding depression on fitness is also taken into account. It is concluded that the optimal management method can be recommended in conservation programs with local adaptation of subpopulations, but this issue should be accounted for when designing the management strategies.

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