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      Population adaptive index: a new method to help measure intraspecific genetic diversity and prioritize populations for conservation.

      Conservation Biology

      Rana temporaria, genetics, Conservation of Natural Resources, Biodiversity, France, Genetic Variation, Genotype, Lamiaceae, Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques, Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length, Adaptation, Biological, Animals

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          In conservation biology genetic diversity is recognized as an important criterion to consider when prioritizing populations for protection. Today, population genomics offers the opportunity to evaluate both neutral and adaptive components of genetic diversity directly at the genome level with molecular tools. By screening the genome with many genetic markers, it is possible to detect loci supposedly under natural selection and thus of adaptive significance. We devised a new diversity index, the population adaptive index (PAI), which accounts for the adaptive value of the population it refers to. To estimate this index, we performed a genome scan with amplified fragment length polymorphism markers to identify neutral and selected loci in several populations of a widespread amphibian (common frog, Rana temporaria) and a threatened plant (Austrian dragonhead, Dracocephalum austriacum L.). We then investigated four different conservation strategies aimed at protecting the maximum amount of genetic diversity (neutral or selected). In particular we explored the relevance of the principle of complementarity, usually applied to the protection of species, in the management of intraspecific diversity. This principle advocates the conservation of sets of units that together maximize the species' or genetic diversity, which is in opposition to the traditional approach of targeting populations that are the most diverse individually. Four major conclusions emerged from these results. First, the PAI seemed to be a valuable index to evaluate the adaptive diversities within populations. Second, in the two species, the neutral and adaptive diversities within and among populations were not correlated, so conservation strategies based on the neutral and adaptive indexes would not select the same populations for protection. Third, because of its efficiency in conserving genetic diversity, the principle of complementarity deserves to be used more often for this purpose. Fourth, when neutral and adaptive results conflict, additional arguments (e.g., demography, ecology, and geographic proximity) should be considered together with levels of genetic diversity to determine a conservation strategy.

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