Genetic diversity is being overlooked, experts warned

Intraspecific genetic diversity is critical for biodiversity management genetic diversity
13 March 2020

Conservation experts ‘deeply concerned’ with current goals for genetic diversity set by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)


A group of 20 international experts, including Dr Anna MacDonald from the Research School of Biology, have published a letter in the journal Science, expressing deep concern with the genetic diversity targets currently in discussion by the CBD on the first draft of a post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

Intraspecific genetic diversity is recognised as critical for ecosystem health, species survival, and adaptation, especially under threatening circumstances. In its present form, the post-2020 CBD draft is weak at setting clear guidelines on how to manage and maintain genetic diversity of wild animals and plants.

In their letter, experts proposed that a goal of the framework should be to maintain genetic diversity within all species, not only those domesticated by man. This could be achieved by quantifying and monitoring “genetically effective population size” for healthy and endangered populations, the rate of loss of populations within species and the number of populations monitored by DNA testing.