Biodiv Sci ›› 2020, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (3): 367-375.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2019414

• Reviews • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Applications of molecular markers in conserving endangered species

Yuanyuan Li1,4,*(),Chaonan Liu1,Rong Wang1,Shuixing Luo2,Shouqian Nong3,Jingwen Wang1,Xiaoyong Chen1   

  1. 1 Zhejiang Tiantong Forest Ecosystem National Observation and Research Station, School of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241
    2 Experimental Station of Research Institute of Tropical Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Ledong, Hainan 572542
    3 Hainan Forestry Institute, Haikou 571100
    4 Institute of Eco-Chongming, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062
  • Received:2019-12-30 Accepted:2020-02-20 Online:2020-03-20 Published:2020-03-08
  • Contact: Yuanyuan Li


Molecular markers have been widely applied in the conservation of endangered species for revealing their population genetic variation and evolutionary history, providing essential information for making conservation strategies and conducting restoration practices. Here, we introduced the applications of molecular markers at different stages of conservation efforts: (1) Molecular markers can be used to elevate the precision of identifying conservation units such as excluding the influence of cryptic species and hybridization. (2) Phylogenetic relationships are useful for distinguishing conservation priorities for biodiversity hotspots and discerning species and populations. (3) Molecular markers can contribute to instruct the strategies in ex situ conservation programs. (4) Dynamic monitoring and assessment of conservation activities can be achieved with molecular markers. Finally, we discussed the prospects of applying molecular markers for improving conservation strategies considering global change, including long-term monitoring of genetic dynamics, the use of conservation genetics in conservation management, and the development conservation genomics.

Key words: molecular markers, cryptic species, hybridization, evolutionary significant unit, management unit, ex situ conservation, conservation genomics