Biology professors at Colorado State University have obtained a three-year, $400,000 National Science Foundation grant to study the effects of genes moving from one population to another.

Increasingly, wildlife managers are discovering the benefits of informing conservation action and policy with research on the genetics of populations. For example, relocation is a common management tool used to reintroduce species to environments where they used to occur or to augment declining populations, but moving animals or plants from one part of their range to another can have potentially disastrous effects. Disease can be brought in with the relocated individuals, or, mating between individuals from divergent populations – even if they are the same species –may cause populations to decline under some circumstances.

Chris Funk and Lisa Angeloni, assistant professors of biology at CSU, and their student teams tackle the dilemma of when to artificially induce migration between populations to rescue them from decline by getting up close and personal with Trinidadian guppies. These small fish, although not at risk of extinction themselves, make for an excellent model system to study the effects of introductions on local adaptation and population growth.

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