Evolutionary Genetics and Conservation - WCON5030

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


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.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 24
Private study hours: 126
Total study hours: 150


Contributes to BSc Wildlife Conservation

Method of assessment

Examination, 2 hour (100%)

Reassessment methods: Like for Like

Indicative reading

Reading list (Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually)

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

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

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.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Understand the different issues involved in evolutionary genetics from a theoretical standpoint

8.2 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:

8.3 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

8.4 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.

8.5 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.

8.6 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.

The intended generic learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

9.1 Develop the ability of students to be aware of issues and practices involved with managing protected areas

9.2 Develop student awareness of how evolutionary genetic processes can help to inform biodiversity law and legislative frameworks

9.3 Contribute to field biology skills (surveys, sampling, etc.) via the field trip to collect genetic data on Cypaea nemoralis snails

9.4 Enhance the ability of students to analyse and appraise conservation case studies

9.5 Enhance the ability of students to interpret scholarly publications

9.6 Assist development of student's independent research skills

9.7 Develop, through discussion seminars, student's group work skills


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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