ABG-51806 Wildlife Conservation Genetics


Studiepunten 6.00

Group work3
Course coordinator(s)prof. dr. ir. J Komen
Lecturer(s)dr. DK Aanen
dr. ing. RPMA Crooijmans
prof. dr. ir. J Komen
prof. dr. BJ Zwaan
Examiner(s)prof. dr. BJ Zwaan
prof. dr. ir. J Komen

Language of instruction:

NL and/or EN

Assumed knowledge on:

GEN-11806 Fundamentals of Genetics and Molecular Biology

Continuation courses:

ABG-31306 Genetic Improvement of Livestock; GEN-30806 Population and Quantitative Genetics.


In this course the various evolutionary forces that have shaped animal biodiversity will be briefly summarized. From this the crucial link between evolution and genetics will appear. We will then focus on the importance of genetic variation for the biodiversity of wildlife and explain the various ways of measuring genetic variation in relation to the evolutionary genetics of natural populations. Central elements in this course are the ways to both protect and use the sources of genetic variation in (captive) populations of animal wildlife and rare breeds of livestock species.
Key elements in the course are:
- genetic variation, measuring variation, and the relation to fitness and life histories;
- the dynamics of genetic variation in small populations, the role of pedigrees and measuring the level of inbreeding;
- inbreeding depression and extinction;
- genetic management of captive and wild populations;
- captive breeding and re-introduction;
- measuring biodiversity and defining management units;
- preserving biodiversity: how to prioritize?;
- ethical issues and conservation policies.
These issues will be illustrated on successful and unsuccessful case studies such as aurochs/oerrund, the prairie chicken and zoo breeding programmes.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- explain the importance of genetic diversity for the conservation of species;
- understand the importance of genetic tools and concepts to construct breeding plans and programmes for conservation;
- apply these tools in various practicals and in the Studbook assignment;
- identify the major evolutionary forces that shape genetic variation in wild populations;
- explain the concept of effective population size;
- calculate inbreeding coefficients in small populations;
- explain the dynamics of genetic variation due to population size and structure;
- evaluate and construct management and conservation breeding plans and programmes.


- lectures;
- analysis of case studies;
- computer exercises on calculating genetic diversity parameters;
- design of a conservation management plan or breeding programme;
- presenting such plans or programme.


The final mark is based on:
- written exam (80%);
- group assignment (20%).
Minimum mark for written exam is 5.5; minimum mark for assignment is 6.


R. Frankham, J.D. Ballou & D.A. Briscoe . A primer of conservation genetics.(2005). ISBN 0-521-53827
Various scientific and opinion papers.

Verplicht voor: WUWLBBSc Minor Wildlife Biodiversity5AF