Significance of population genetics for managing small natural and reintroduced populations in New Zealand

Conservation biology has had a long-standing debate about the relative importance of genetic processes in increasing the risk of extinction in threatened species. We assume that priority should be given to securing a species from extinction by stopping significant declines in numbers and then managing the secured populations to recovery by creating opportunities for population growth.

Managing genetic diversity in threatened populations: a New Zealand perspective

Genetic diversity allows a population to adapt genetically to a changing environment or to buffer it against stochastic events such as harsh weather or disease outbreaks. Genetic diversity is therefore an important consideration in the development of management strategies for threatened populations around the world, with the possible exception of New Zealand, where species recovery programmes tend to focus on increasing population size while neglecting the maintenance of genetic diversity.