Conservation genetics and evolution in an endangered species: Research in Sonoran topminnows

Philip W. Hedrick, Carla R. Hurt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Conservation genetics of endangered species has primarily focused on using neutral markers to determine units of conservation and estimating evolutionary parameters. Because the endangered Sonoran topminnow can be bred in the laboratory and has a relatively short generation length, experiments to examine both detrimental and adaptive variations are also possible. Here, we discuss over two decades of empirical and experimental observations in the Sonoran topminnow. Results from this research have been used to determine species and evolutionary significant units using neutral markers, document inbreeding and outbreeding depression and genetic load using experimental crosses, and measure adaptive differences in fitness-related traits and variation in pathogen resistance among populations and major histocompatibility complex genotypes. In addition, both premating and postmating reproductive isolation between Gila and Yaqui topminnows have been experimentally determined, and the predicted and observed ancestry of these two species in experimental crosses has been examined over time. Although some have suggested that endangered species are unsuitable for experimentation because of both practical and ethical considerations, these results demonstrate that in this case an endangered species can be employed to examine fundamental questions in conservation and evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)806-819
Number of pages14
JournalEvolutionary Applications
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Evolutionary significant units
  • Inbreeding depression
  • Major histocompatibility complex
  • MtDNA
  • Outbreeding depression
  • Reproductive isolation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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