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How genomics can help biodiversity conservation
Kathrin Theissinger, Tine Grebenc, 2023, original scientific article

Abstract: The availability of public genomic resources can greatly assist biodiversity assessment, conservation, and restoration efforts by providing evidence for scientifically informed management decisions. Here we survey the main approaches and applications in biodiversity and conservation genomics, considering practical factors, such as cost, time, prerequisite skills, and current shortcomings of applications. Most approaches perform best in combination with reference genomes from the target species or closely related species. We review case studies to illustrate how reference genomes can facilitate biodiversity research and conservation across the tree of life. We conclude that the time is ripe to view reference genomes as fundamental resources and to integrate their use as a best practice in conservation genomics.
Keywords: genomics, biodiversity conservation
Published in DiRROS: 22.02.2023; Views: 147; Downloads: 57
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Assessing the heterogeneity and conservation status of the Natura 2000 priority forest habitat type Tilio–Acerion (9180*) based on field mapping
Janez Kermavnar, Erika Kozamernik, Lado Kutnar, 2023, original scientific article

Abstract: Priority habitat types (HTs) within the Natura 2000 network are of the highest importance for conservation in Europe. However, they often occur in smaller areas and their conservation status is not well understood. One such HT is that of the Tilio–Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines (9180*). The Natura 2000 study site, Boč–Haloze–Donačka gora, in the Sub-Pannonian region of eastern Slovenia is characterized by a matrix of European beech forests and includes rather small, fragmented areas covered by Tilio–Acerion forests. The goal of this research was to examine the heterogeneity and conservation status of the selected HT through field mapping, which was performed in the summer of 2020. As the conservation of HT calls for a more detailed approach, we distinguished between the following four pre-defined habitat subtypes: (i) Acer pseudoplatanus-Ulmus glabra stands growing mostly in concave terrain, (ii) Fraxinus excelsior stands growing on slopes, (iii) Tilia sp. stands with thermophilous broadleaves occurring on ridges and slopes, (iv) Acer pseudoplatanus stands occurring on more acidic soils with an admixture of Castanea sativa. Field mapping information was complemented with the assessment of habitat subtype characteristics using remote sensing data. The results showed that habitat subtypes differed significantly in terms of area, tree species composition, forest stand characteristics, relief features and the various threats they experienced (e.g., fragmentation, tree mortality, ungulate browsing pressure). The differences between subtypes were also evident for LiDAR-derived environmental factors related to topography (i.e., terrain steepness and Topographic Position Index). This study provides a baseline for setting more realistic objectives for the conservation management of priority forest HTs. Due to the specificities of each individual habitat subtype, conservation activities should be targeted to the Natura 2000 habitat subtype level.
Keywords: forest habitat subtype, monitoring, biodiversity conservation, LiDAR, Slovenia, NATURA 2000
Published in DiRROS: 03.02.2023; Views: 693; Downloads: 81
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The status and role of genetic diversity of trees for the conservation and management of riparian ecosystems : a European experts' perspective
Filip Alimpić, Jelena Milovanović, Remigiusz Pielech, Georgi Hinkov, Roland Jansson, Simon Dufour, Marcin Beza, Nebi Bilir, Luis Santos del Blanco, Gregor Božič, 2022, original scientific article

Abstract: Riparian vegetation supports high biodiversity providing many services and is, therefore, an important landscape element. Riparian ecosystems are subject to numerous pressures leading to population decline and genetic erosion of riparian plants. This may have cascading effects at various ecosystem levels, including decreasing ecosystem services, so identifying the current status of genetic diversity of riparian tree species is vital to improve the effectiveness of restoration efforts. We aimed to elicit expert views on the status and importance of genetic diversity of tree species, and conservation needs across European riparian ecosystems. Sharing of such information among researchers, managers and policymakers has the potential to enhance ecological restoration and management of riparian ecosystems. We identified experts in riparian genetic resources conservation and management across Europe. These included stakeholders with different perspectives, ranging from researchers to practitioners. We designed a set of questionnaires where our identified experts were asked to answer questions related to the status and conservation of genetic diversity of riparian tree species in their respective countries. Specifically, we asked about societal awareness, legislative tools, good practices and conservation or restoration projects accounting for intraspecific genetic diversity and differentiation of tree species in riparian ecosystems. Questionnaire responses were analysed and discussed in light of the scientific literature to define needs and priorities related to the management and conservation of genetic diversity of riparian tree species. The experts recognized that a combination of in situ and ex situ measures and/or integrative conservation of riparian ecosystems is the most appropriate option for conserving the genetic diversity of riparian tree species. Simultaneous application of conservation measures at the level of priority species, identified by experts, and protection of riparian areas are required. Synthesis and applications. This study revealed the importance of recognizing the ecological processes that shape the genetic diversity of riparian tree species in hydrographic networks (dendritic spatial configuration, specific patterns of gene flow among riparian populations, fragmentation of river by dams) but also the need to overcome socio-economic barriers, such as lack of policy priority, deficiency in funding and weak legislation framework.
Keywords: biodiversity conservation, genetic erosion, genetic resources conservation, knowledge transfer, management, riparian genetic diversity, vegetation
Published in DiRROS: 08.12.2022; Views: 175; Downloads: 100
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The era of reference genomes in conservation genomics
Giulio Formenti, 2022, original scientific article

Abstract: Progress in genome sequencing now enables the large-scale generation of reference genomes. Various international initiatives aim to generate reference genomes representing global biodiversity. These genomes provide unique insights into genomic diversity and architecture, thereby enabling comprehensive analyses of population and functional genomics, and are expected to revolutionize conservation genomics.
Keywords: conservation genetics, biodiversity conservation, European Reference Genome Atlas, ERGA
Published in DiRROS: 03.02.2022; Views: 419; Downloads: 326
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