Bridging the conservation genetics gap by identifying barriers to implementation for conservation practitioners
Despite its recognised importance for species’ persistence, integrating genetics into conservation management has proved problematic, creating a “conservation genetics gap”, which could widen with the advent of advanced genomic techniques. Bridging this gap requires a clear understanding of the barriers to use of genetics by conservation practitioners, but few (if any) papers on this topic involve direct consultation with practitioners themselves. We surveyed 148 conservation practitioners in New Zealand’s Department of Conservation regarding their attitude to, knowledge of, and experiences with genetics for conservation. Although practitioners were largely receptive to using genetics for conservation management, access to expertise and funding remains a barrier to use. Practitioners would like to collaborate with geneticists at universities or other institutes, but do not necessarily know who to talk to or fully understand how genetics might benefit them. We contend these barriers or similar likely exist at an international level, suggest ways they might be overcome, and emphasise the need for clearer communication between geneticists and practitioners.
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