Evol Ecol Res 16: 475-491 (2014)     Full PDF

Hybridization due to changing species distributions: adding problems or solutions to conservation of biodiversity during global change?

Adrian C. Brennan1,2, Guy Woodward3, Ole Seehausen4,5, Violeta Muñoz-Fuentes1,6, Craig Moritz7, Anis Guelmami8, Richard J. Abbott9 and Pim Edelaar10

1Estación Biológica de Doñana – CSIC, Seville, Spain,  2School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Durham University, Durham, UK,  3Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, Ascot, Berkshire, UK,  4Aquatic Ecology & Evolution, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland,  5Eawag Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Fish Ecology & Evolution, Centre of Ecology, Evolution and Biogeochemistry, Kastanienbaum, Switzerland,  6Conservation Genetics Group, Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt, Gelnhausen, Germany,  7Centre for Biodiversity Analysis and Research School of Biology, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia,  8Research Centre for the Conservation of Mediterranean Wetlands, Arles, France,  9School of Biology, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Fife, UK and  10Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemical Engineering, University Pablo de Olavide, Seville, Spain

Correspondence: P. Edelaar, Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemical Engineering, University Pablo de Olavide, Carretera Utrera km. 1, 41013 Seville, Spain.
e-mail: edelaar@upo.es


Background: Due to increasing global change, the rate of hybridization appears to be increasing.

Question: Is hybridization adding problems or solutions to the effects of global change on biodiversity?

Methods: We divided ourselves into two independent groups. Each group listed topics it thought appropriate. We then compared and combined the lists, extracting a natural structure of the topics. We next divided ourselves into three specialized subgroups and discussed the topics in more depth. In a final plenary meeting, we brought ideas together, discussed open topics, identified consensus or differences of opinion, and prepared a preliminary report.

Results: Our lists of topics were highly similar, suggesting that we missed only a few topics. We agreed that it is important to consider hybridization in both its genetic and ecological context and with explicit attention paid to phylogenetic and biogeographic history. It is also necessary to distinguish between underlying processes and resulting consequences. Knowledge of the consequences of hybridization is more developed in genetics than in ecology. We suggest that hybridization adds problems (loss of biodiversity, ecosystem degradation) as well as solutions (new adaptive variation, ecosystem robustness) to global change challenges. Which of these applies in a given case depends on its evolutionary and environmental context, and on the objectives of conservation management. We provide five groups of questions to stimulate further research.

Keywords: adaptive potential, biodiversity loss, conservation management, ecological network, global change, hybridization.



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