BIOL421* - Conservation Genetics - Fall 2017

Q&A Monday Dec. 4, 1-2 pm, Biosci 3110

Q&A Wednesday Dec. 6, 11:30-12:30, Biosci 3112





Dr. Vicki Friesen
Office: 4443 Biosciences Complex
Phone: 533-6156
email: vlf at queensu dot ca

Teaching Assistant:

Drew Sauve (0as69 at queensu dot ca)
Office: 4441 Biosciences Complex
Phone: 533-6000 ex. 75539


Mondays 3:30-4:30; Wednsdays 2:30-3:30; Thursdays 4:30-5:30; Biosci 1120


Tuesdays 11:30-14:30, Ellis 218 OR Thursdays 8:30-11:30, Biosci 1120


As the field of conservation biology grows, several specialized subdisciplines are forming. Conservation genetics is a relatively new field of research at the interface of conservation biology, and ecological and evolutionary genetics. The expansion of this field of research, and its importance in conservation, are evidenced by the recent initiation of a scientific journal ('Conservation Genetics'), the hiring of research chairs in conservation genetics at many universities and government offices worldwide, and the solicitation of conservation geneticists on decision bodies such as the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. The course is intended to familiarize students with both the fundamentals of conservation genetics, and state-of-the-art research in the field. This course will address questions such as How is genetic variation lost? Can loss of genetic variation result in extinction? How much genetic variation is 'enough' for population viability? Can loss of genetic variation be prevented? How do we define management units for conservation? And is hybridization a problem or a benefit for conservation?


Allendorf et al., 2013, Conservation and the Genetics of Populations. Blackwell. 2nd edition


The lecture component of the course will comprise two parts: The first approx. 4 weeks will entail GUTS ('getting up to speed') – a review of general concepts of molecular, Mendelian, population and evolutionary genetics that are germane to conservation: the Hardy Weinberg theorem; genetic drift; genetically effective population size; natural selection; gene flow and population differentiation; and quantitative genetics. The last 8 weeks of lectures will focus on SOTA ('state-of-the-art') topics in conservation genetics, especially the application of basic theory to declining populations: inbreeding depression; the relationship between neutral genetic variation and fitness; genetic variability and population viability; effects of population fragmentation on gene flow; defining and prioritizing population units for conservation; conservation implications of hybridization; disease and conservation; the genetic considerations of captive breeding; adaptation to anthropogenic changes; and the genetics of alien invasions. Students also will be exposed to current research in conservation genetics through guest lectures.

Tutorials will involve exercises to help students master the fundamentals of conservation genetics through a combination of practical exercises, discussions and student seminars.

Marking Scheme:

Take-Home Starter Quiz 5%
Midterm test 15%
Final exam 40%
Tutorial exercises 40%