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Trends Ecol Evol. 2015 Jan;30(1):42-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2014.10.009. Epub 2014 Nov 27.

Genetic rescue to the rescue.

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Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.
Department of Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.
Department of Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA; Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.
Department of Biology and Marine Biology, University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau, AK 99801, USA. Electronic address:


Genetic rescue can increase the fitness of small, imperiled populations via immigration. A suite of studies from the past decade highlights the value of genetic rescue in increasing population fitness. Nonetheless, genetic rescue has not been widely applied to conserve many of the threatened populations that it could benefit. In this review, we highlight recent studies of genetic rescue and place it in the larger context of theoretical and empirical developments in evolutionary and conservation biology. We also propose directions to help shape future research on genetic rescue. Genetic rescue is a tool that can stem biodiversity loss more than has been appreciated, provides population resilience, and will become increasingly useful if integrated with molecular advances in population genomics.


adaptive evolution; endangered species; evolutionary rescue; genetic rescue; heterosis; inbreeding depression; outbreeding depression

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