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Fitness decline and adaptation to novel environments in ex situ plant collections: Current knowledge and future perspectives

  • The conservation of rare plant species as living collections in botanic gardens and arboreta has become an established tool in the battle against worldwide species' extinctions. However, the establishment of ex situ collections with a high conservation value requires a sound understanding of the evolutionary processes that may reduce the suitability of these collections for future reintroductions. Particularly, risks such as fitness decline of cultivated plants over time, trait shifts and loss of adaptation to the original habitat due to changes in selection regimes have rarely been addressed so far. Based on a literature review and results of our own project we show that genetic drift can lead to fitness decline in ex situ cultivated plants, but these drift effects strongly depend on the conditions and cultivation history in the ex situ facility. Furthermore, we provide evidence that shifts in traits such as germination and flowering time, and a decrease in stress tolerance to drought and competition can reduce the conservation valueThe conservation of rare plant species as living collections in botanic gardens and arboreta has become an established tool in the battle against worldwide species' extinctions. However, the establishment of ex situ collections with a high conservation value requires a sound understanding of the evolutionary processes that may reduce the suitability of these collections for future reintroductions. Particularly, risks such as fitness decline of cultivated plants over time, trait shifts and loss of adaptation to the original habitat due to changes in selection regimes have rarely been addressed so far. Based on a literature review and results of our own project we show that genetic drift can lead to fitness decline in ex situ cultivated plants, but these drift effects strongly depend on the conditions and cultivation history in the ex situ facility. Furthermore, we provide evidence that shifts in traits such as germination and flowering time, and a decrease in stress tolerance to drought and competition can reduce the conservation value of ex situ collections. These threats associated with ex situ conditions require more attention by researchers, curators and conservationists. We need to increase knowledge on traits that are subject to novel selection pressures in ex situ collections, and to define population sizes that prevent genetic drift. Establishing conservation networks with replicated collections across gardens and balancing the seed contribution of mother plants to the next generation within a collection are suggested as first steps to increase the conservation value of ex situ plant collections. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Andreas Ensslin, Okka Tschoepe, Michael BurkartGND, Jasmin Radha JoshiORCiDGND
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2015.10.012
ISSN:0006-3207 (print)
ISSN:1873-2917 (online)
Parent Title (English):: an international journal
Publisher:Elsevier
Place of publication:Oxford
Document Type:Preprint
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2015
Year of Completion:2015
Release Date:2017/03/27
Tag:Adaptive evolution; Artificial selection; Botanic gardens; Ex situ conservation; Genetic drift
Volume:192
Pagenumber:8
First Page:394
Last Page:401
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Biochemie und Biologie
Peer Review:Referiert