The use and abuse of microsatellite DNA markers in conservation biology

R. Moss, Stuart Brannon Piertney, S. C. F. Palmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Conservation genetics is based on the need to maintain genetic variation, which retains deleterious recessive mutations in a heterozygous state and provides adaptive potential in a changing environment. Typically, levels of variation in natural populations are assessed with neutral markers such as microsatellites. Adaptive genetic variation, however, is likely to respond to microevolutionary forces (mutation, natural selection and random genetic drift) in a different way. Hence we need to study the relationship between neutral microsatellite markers and genes of adaptive significance. We present simple models that illustrate the difficulty of inferring levels of adaptive genetic variation from molecular markers, and hence evolutionary potential and fitness from microsatellite markers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-250
Number of pages7
JournalWildlife Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • conservation genetics
  • DNA
  • drift
  • extinction
  • inbreeding
  • microsatellite
  • MVP
  • LOCI


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