CWR In Situ Strategy Helpdesk

National CWR flora methodology

Step 5: CWR gap analysis

Fundamentally, gap analysis is the comparison of natural patterns of diversity with the proportion of that diversity that is conserved, and the identification of ‘gaps’ in the conserved diversity where natural diversity is not conserved. This concept was put forward as a conservation evaluation technique that identifies areas in which selected elements of biodiversity are represented (Margules, 1989) and has largely been applied to indigenous forests, particularly on small islands rich in endemic species. There is now an extensive literature associated with gap analysis as a conservation evaluation technique which essentially identifies areas in which selected elements of biodiversity are under-represented (Margules et al., 1988; Margules 1989; Margules and Pressey, 2000; Balmford, 2003; Brooks et al., 2004; Dietz and Czech 2005; Riemann and Ezcurra, 2005). However, the concept of gap analysis can equally be used to evaluate CWR taxonomic and genetic diversity and help develop future strategies for CWR genetic conservation (see Maxted et al., 2008). 

The assessment of taxonomic and genetic conservation efficiency effectively involves a comparison of natural in situ CWR diversity with the diversity that has been sampled and conserved either in situ or ex situ (Maxted et al., 2008).  Ideally, the conservationist would assess the inherent genetic diversity within the taxa being reviewed; however, this is rarely possible as existing knowledge of patterns of genetic diversity are not generally available and rarely are the resources available to collate the genetic diversity information de novo. Therefore, in the absence of 'real' genetic diversity information it will be necessary to employ the proxy of ecogeographic diversity. In other words, if a priority CWR species is distributed throughout a country then it is assumed unless there is evidence to the contrary that genetic diversity is partitioned in relation to ecogeographic diversity, and sampling from the maximum diversity of locations will result in the most genetically diverse samples. In which case disparate ecogeographic locations would identified for the establishment of genetic reserves or the sampling of populations for ex situ conservation.

Step 6: Development of in situ / ex situ CWR conservation

Helpdesk references