Table_6_Landscape Genomic Conservation Assessment of a Narrow-Endemic and a Widespread Morning Glory From Amazonian Savannas.PDF
Although genetic diversity ultimately determines the ability of organisms to adapt to environmental changes, conservation assessments like the widely used International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List Criteria do not explicitly consider genetic information. Including a genetic dimension into the IUCN Red List Criteria would greatly enhance conservation efforts, because the demographic parameters traditionally considered are poor predictors of the evolutionary resilience of natural populations to global change. Here we perform the first genomic assessment of genetic diversity, gene flow, and patterns of local adaptation in tropical plant species belonging to different IUCN Red List Categories. Employing RAD-sequencing we identified tens of thousands of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in an endangered narrow-endemic and a least concern widespread morning glory (Convolvulaceae) from Amazonian savannas, a highly threatened and under-protected tropical ecosystem. Our results reveal greater genetic diversity and less spatial genetic structure in the endangered species. Whereas terrain roughness affected gene flow in both species, forested and mining areas were found to hinder gene flow in the endangered plant. Finally we implemented environmental association tests and genome scans for selection, and identified a higher proportion of candidate adaptive loci in the widespread species. These mainly contained genes related to pathogen resistance and physiological adaptations to life in nutrient-limited environments. Our study emphasizes that IUCN Red List Criteria do not always prioritize species with low genetic diversity or whose genetic variation is being affected by habitat loss and fragmentation, and calls for the inclusion of genetic information into conservation assessments. More generally, our study exemplifies how landscape genomic tools can be employed to assess the status, threats and adaptive responses of imperiled biodiversity.