Evolutionary Genetics and Conservation - DI503

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Autumn 6 15 (7.5) checkmark-circle


Genetics forms the basis of the diversity of life on earth, and is fundamental to biodiversity, speciation, evolutionary ecology, and has become recognized to be vital to the successful restoration of endangered species. An understanding of the evolutionary processes that foster biodiversity and genetic diversity is essential for modern conservation biologists, across timescales ranging from a few generations to millions of years. Students will gain an understanding of the importance of genetic processes and evolutionary mechanisms within the context of conservation.


This module appears in the following module collections.


Contributes to BSc Wildlife Conservation

Method of assessment

100% examination.

Indicative reading

Frankham, R., Ballou, J. D. & Briscoe, D. A. (2002). Introduction to Conservation Genetics. Cambridge University Press.

Frankham, R, J. D. Ballou and D.A. Briscoe. (2004). A primer of Conservation Genetics. Cambridge University Press.

Stearns, S. C. & Hoekstra, R. F. (2000). Evolution – An Introduction. Oxford University Press.

Nei, M. & Kumar, S. (2000). Molecular Evolution and Phylogenetics. Oxford University Press.

Maynard Smith, J. (1998). Evolutionary Genetics. Oxford University Press.

Landweber, L. F. & Dobson, A. P. (1999). Genetics and the extinction of species – DNA and the conservation of biodiversity. Princeton University Press, New Jersey.

Caughley, G. & Gunn, A. (1996). Conservation Biology in Theory and Practice. Blackwell, Oxford.

Bennett, P. M. & Owens, I. P. F. (2002). Evolutionary Ecology of Birds – Life histories, mating systems and extinction. Oxford Series in Ecology & Evolution. Oxford University Press.

Schluter, D. (2001) The Ecology of Adaptive Radiation. Oxford Series in Ecology & Evolution. Oxford University Press.

Grant, P. (2002). Ecology and Evolution of Darwin's Finches. Princeton University Press.

Soule, M. E. (1987). Viable Populations for Conservation. Cambridge University Press.

Meffe, G. K. & Carroll, C. R. (1997). Principles of Conservation Biology. Sinauer Associates.

Avise, J. C. (1994). Molecular Markers, Natural History and Evolution. Chapman & Hall, London.

Scott, J. M., Conant, S. & Van Riper III. (2002). Evolution, Ecology, Conservation, and management of Hawaiian Birds: A vanishing Avifauna. Studies in Avian Biology No. 22. Allen Press, Inc., Kansas.

Mindell, D. P. (1997). Avian Molecular Evolution and Systematics. Academic Press, London.

Frankel, O. H. & Soulé, M. E. (1981). Conservation and Evolution. Cambridge University Press.

Smith, T. B. & Wayne, R. K. (1996). Molecular Genetic Approaches in Conservation. Oxford University Press, New York.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

- Understand the different issues involved in evolutionary genetics from a theoretical standpoint
- Gain knowledge of the practical tools available to measure genetic diversity and evolutionary distinctiveness for making conservation management decisions. By the end of the module, students should be able to know about, and discuss intelligently:
- Understand and discuss in detail the following key topics:
? Genetic Diversity in Natural Populations.
? Genetic Management of Wild & Captive Populations.
? Problems Encountered by Small Populations.
? Molecular Phylogenies & Evolutionary Distinctiveness.
? Evolution & Conservation of Island Populations
- Understand the fundamental ecological and biodiversity-related concepts and how they apply to wildlife conservation. Especially in the context of evolutionary genetics within the broader remit of conservation biology and ecology.
- Understanding the role of behavioral ecology in wildlife conservation': this module will integrate the genetic problems associated with small population biology alongside global evolutionary processes.
- Interpret genetic data, relating to genetics in wildlife conservation issues, acquired for endangered species and relate this to behavioral data in the context of conservation biology.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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