Harmonizing hybridization dissonance in conservation.

  • publication
  • 23-07-2020

Quilodrán CS, Montoya-Burgos JI, Currat M. Commun Biol 2020 Jul;3(1):391. 10.1038/s42003-020-1116-9. 10.1038/s42003-020-1116-9.

A dramatic increase in the hybridization between historically allopatric species has been induced by human activities. However, the notion of hybridization seems to lack consistency in two respects. On the one hand, it is inconsistent with the biological species concept, which does not allow for interbreeding between species, and on the other hand, it is considered either as an evolutionary process leading to the emergence of new biodiversity or as a cause of biodiversity loss, with conservation implications. In the first case, we argue that conservation biology should avoid the discussion around the species concept and delimit priorities of conservation units based on the impact on biodiversity if taxa are lost. In the second case, we show that this is not a paradox but an intrinsic property of hybridization, which should be considered in conservation programmes. We propose a novel view of conservation guidelines, in which human-induced hybridization may also be a tool to enhance the likelihood of adaptation to changing environmental conditions or to increase the genetic diversity of taxa affected by inbreeding depression. The conservation guidelines presented here represent a guide for the development of programmes aimed at protecting biodiversity as a dynamic evolutionary system.

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