Effectively conserving a species’ genetic diversity ex situ: the case of Fraxinus excelsior in the UK

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Clare Trivedi

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Well planned seed bank collections play a vital complementary role to in situ conservation and ecological restoration by preventing extinctions, providing seed for habitat recovery, and providing accessible, well-documented germplasm for research and experimentation. It is vital that such collections capture the genetic diversity of a target species over the geographic area in which it will be used. The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, led by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, comprises a range of seed collecting projects worldwide. The UK National Tree Seed Project has placed particular importance on the capture of intra-specific genetic diversity for native trees and shrubs.  The project provides a useful case study for common challenges to capture genetic diversity, whether for long-term conservation or more immediate use in restoration. The UKNTSP has developed a detailed sampling strategy which, in the absence of detailed knowledge of population genetics, uses biogeographic zones as a proxy for genetic diversity and adaptation. The outcomes of this sampling strategy were evaluated using a modelling approach using simulations and geographic distribution data for the species Fraxinus excelsior. The model estimates that UKNTSP ash collections have captured >90% of all alleles present in Britain. The approach can be used to help design, justify, or evaluate seed collection outcomes for any species or application.

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Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration