Facilitated adaptation as a conservation tool in the present climate change context: a methodological guide
Climate change poses a novel threat to biodiversity that urgently requires the development of adequate conservation strategies. Living organisms respond to environmental change by migrating to locations where their ecological niche is preserved or by adapting to the new environment. While the first response has been used to develop, discuss and implement the strategy of assisted migration, facilitated adaptation is only beginning to be considered as a potential approach. Here, we present a review of the conceptual framework for facilitated adaptation, integrating advances and methodologies from different disciplines. Briefly, facilitated adaptation involves a population reinforcement that introduces beneficial alleles to enable the evolutionary adaptation of a focal population to pressing environmental conditions. To this purpose, we propose two methodological approaches. The first one (called pre-existing adaptation approach) is based on using pre-adapted genotypes existing in the focal population, in other populations, or even in closely related species. The second approach (called de novo adaptation approach) aims to generate new pre-adapted genotypes from the diversity present in the species through artificial selection. For each approach, we present a stage-by-stage procedure, with some techniques that can be used for its implementation. The associated risks and difficulties of each approach are also discussed.
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