Biotechnology: Applications

Considerations in Conservation Planning

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Christian Bien Portrait_edited.jpg

Ben Whitten

Learning Objectives

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Why is conservation important?
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Conservation is important to both protect and ensure the survival of the native species which inhabit our land, and it requires extremely careful planning in order to maximise the chances for planning to be successful. Plans regarding conservation must be based on the best available scientific information. Conservation planning to maintain viable gene pools should consider;


  1. Biogeography

  2. Reproductive behaviour

  3. Population dynamics

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Biogeography
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Biogeography is defined as the study of the distributions of animals and plant species and how those distributions relate to the environment, to the origin of the species and to the changes that have occurred over time.


In regards to the spatial organisation of biological diversity, nature reserves and/or areas which are utilised in the conservation of organisms must be large enough and have the most optimal/suitable conditions in order to maintain a viable gene pool (populations of target species).


Different abiotic and biotic factors need to be taken into account in conservation planning to ensure these optimal conditions are met. Some factors may include temperature, elevations, soil types and typical species which inhabit the area.


Through studies of biogeography, conservationists are more well equipped to make decisions on whether a species need to be monitored or actively protected.

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Reproductive behaviour
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Reproductive behaviour is behaviour associated with mating or rearing young, including;

  • Mating systems

  • Courtship

  • Sexual behaviour

  • Fertilisation

  • Raising of young

Species have complex sets of behavioural adaptations which coordinate the timing and pattern of reproductive activity, and so reproductive behaviour may change in captivity or outside of their natural environment, if directed by humans (e.g. in zoos), or if they're in a small area.


This type of behaviour needs to be considered when planning conservation strategies to prevent inbreeding and the loss of advantageous alleles, gene pool diversity and reproductive fitness.

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Population dynamics
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Population dynamics is the study of the number, gender, age and relatedness of individuals in a population. Population size is directly affected by the number of births, deaths, immigrations and emigrations.


Changes to these can cause a shift in dynamics, alongside both density-dependent factors such as limitations of resources such as food and shelter, and density-independent factors such as an infectious disease or a tree logging.


Population growth, density, urbanisation and migration are factors to be considered in population dynamics. As a small population usually has a small gene pool, they are more susceptible to losing genetic diversity, and hence population size is a crucial consideration when planning conservation strategies.

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