Applied Conservation Genetics and the Need for Quality Control and Reporting of Genetic Data Used in Fisheries and Wildlife Management
conservation, genetics, quality control
Genetic data are often critical for defining populations for management purposes (e.g., identifying geographic boundaries or diagnostic characters for genetically discrete subunits) but can be called into question by both scientific and legal review. This can result in reversed or delayed implementation of management actions. We discuss methods for data quality control and quality analysis and describe examples of steps applied to 2 of the most common types of genetic data, mitochondrial DNA sequences, and microsatellite genotypes. These steps can serve both as guides to conservation geneticists and as an initial protocol for managers to determine whether genetic data will hold up against legal and scientific challenges. In addition, we suggest types of data and quality measures that should be reported as supplementary materials to published reports. These supplementary data serve to reduce the occurrence of legal and conservation controversies and improve reproducibility over time in population genetics studies where genetic monitoring is likely to play an increasing role.