Longitudinal monitoring of neutral and adaptive genomic diversity in a reintroduction

Imogen C. Marshall, Chris Brauer, Scotte D. Wedderburn, Nick Whiterod, Michael Hammer, Thomas C. Barnes, Catherine R.M. Attard, Luciana B. Moller, Luciano B. Beheregaray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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Restoration programs in the form of ex-situ breeding combined with reintroductions are becoming critical to counteract demographic declines and species losses. Such programs are increasingly using genetic management to improve conservation outcomes. However, the lack of long-term monitoring of genetic indicators following reintroduction prevents assessments of the trajectory and persistence of reintroduced populations. We carried out an extensive monitoring program in the wild for a threatened small-bodied fish (southern pygmy perch, Nannoperca australis) to assess the long-term genomic effects of its captive breeding and reintroduction. The species was rescued prior to its extirpation from the terminal lakes of Australia's Murray-Darling Basin, and then used for genetically informed captive breeding and reintroductions. Subsequent annual or biannual monitoring of abundance, fitness, and occupancy over a period of 11 years, combined with postreintroduction genetic sampling, revealed survival and recruitment of reintroduced fish. Genomic analyses based on data from the original wild rescued, captive born, and reintroduced cohorts revealed low inbreeding and strong maintenance of neutral and candidate adaptive genomic diversity across multiple generations. An increasing trend in the effective population size of the reintroduced population was consistent with field monitoring data in demonstrating successful re-establishment of the species. This provides a rare empirical example that the adaptive potential of a locally extinct population can be maintained during genetically informed ex-situ conservation breeding and reintroduction into the wild. Strategies to improve biodiversity restoration via ex-situ conservation should include genetic-based captive breeding and longitudinal monitoring of standing genomic variation in reintroduced populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13889
Number of pages12
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number4
Early online date13 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • ex-situ population management
  • adaptive genetic diversity
  • restoration genomics
  • conservation genomics
  • Australian fish
  • threatened species
  • Murray-Darling Basin
  • Percichthyidae
  • restoration threatened species
  • population genomics
  • gestión poblacional ex situ
  • genómica de la conservación
  • especie amenazada
  • Cuenca Murray-Darling
  • diversidad genética adaptativa
  • peces australianos
  • genómica de la restauración


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