Uneven genetic data limits biodiversity assessments in protected areas globally

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Ivan Paz-Vinas, Amy Vandergast, Chloe Schmidt, Deborah M Leigh, Simon Blanchet, René D. Clark, Eric Crandall, Hanne de Kort, Jeff Falgout, Colin J Garroway, Eleana Karachaliou, Francine Kershaw, David O’Brien, Malin Pinsky, Gernot Segelbacher, Maggie Hunter


Increasing the extent of protected areas (PA) through 30x30 and other area-based conservation initiatives can help to achieve global biodiversity conservation goals across all biodiversity levels. However, intraspecific genetic variation, the foundational level of biodiversity, is rarely explicitly considered in PA design or quality performance assessments. Repurposing existing genetic data could rapidly inform area-based conservation planning and improve the preservation of genetic variation. Through a global compilation of population-level nuclear genetic data (>2 million individuals; 36,356 populations; 2,809 species), we identified both data-rich areas, and substantial geographic and taxonomic gaps. These gaps are within many protected areas and hotspots of species biodiversity, and may preclude robust protection of genetic diversity. Addressing data unevenness through efforts to collect, gather, harmonize and share genetic data globally could help support integration of genetic information into PA design, PA performance assessments, and genetically-oriented global conservation policies.




Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Policy, Genetics, Life Sciences


Protected areas, genetic data, macrogenetics, Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, 30x30, area-based conservation, conservation genetics, biodiversity conservation


Published: 2023-10-26 14:10

Last Updated: 2023-10-26 18:10


CC-By Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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Data and Code Availability Statement:
Supplementary data files 1 and 2 will be deposited in an open repository once the paper will be accepted for publication in a journal.