Optimizing targeted gene flow to maximize local genetic diversity: when
and how to act under various scenarios of environmental change.
Targeted gene flow is an emerging conservation tool which involves
introducing a cohort of individuals with particular traits to locations
where they can produce a conservation benefit. This approach is being
proposed to adapt recipient populations to a known threat, but questions
remain surrounding how best to maximize conservation outcomes during
periods of continuous directional environmental change. Here we
introduce a new management objective — to keep the recipient
population extant and with maximum diversity of local alleles — and we
explore how varying the timing and size of an introduction can achieve
this. Our results reveal that management levers can often optimize this
so that nearly 100% of the allelic diversity is preserved. These
optimum outcome sets are robust to the shape of the environmental change
but are highly sensitive to the the maximum magnitude of change and the
level of outbreeding depression in the system.