Understanding managers’ and scientists’ perspectives on opportunities to achieve more evolutionarily enlightened management in conservation

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Despite wide acceptance that conservation could benefit from greater attention to principles and processes from evolutionary biology, little attention has been given to quantifying the degree to which relevant evolutionary concepts are being integrated into management practices. There has also been increasing discussion of the potential reasons for a lack of evolutionarily enlightened management, but no attempts to understand the challenges from the perspective of those making management decisions. In this study, we asked conservation managers and scientists for their views on the importance of a range of key evolutionary concepts, the degree to which these concepts are being integrated into management, and what would need to change to support better integration into management practices. We found that while managers recognize the importance of a wide range of evolutionary concepts for conservation outcomes, they acknowledge these concepts are rarely incorporated into management. Managers and scientists were in strong agreement about the range of barriers that need to be overcome, with a lack of knowledge reported as the most important barrier to better integration of evolutionary biology into conservation decision-making. Although managers tended to be more focused on the need for more training in evolutionary biology, scientists reported greater engagement between managers and evolutionary biologists as most important to achieve the necessary change. Nevertheless, the challenges appear to be multifaceted, and several are outside the control of managers, suggesting solutions will need to be multidimensional.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1371-1388
Number of pages18
JournalEvolutionary Applications
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018


  • adaptation
  • conservation management
  • gene flow
  • genetic diversity
  • inbreeding depression
  • outbreeding depression

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