To facilitate discussions among members of the RCN, we have set up Slack channel at To join the channel please visit this site. We encourage you to discuss the papers with other participants prior to joining the larger discussion on slack. For each topic, your group should choose one person to post a summary to the Slack channel that summarizes the group’s reaction to the papers and discussion questions. We have made efforts to improve representation and diversity in our selected readings. Please scroll to the bottom of this page for a diversity summary. Please contact Molly Albecker if you encounter problems with slack or accessing any of the readings.

To form a discussion group: 1) Start a group at your home institution and meet once or twice during each two-week period (any time during the two weeks is fine) to read and discuss the papers, 2) Discuss papers virtually before joining the larger discussion via the #Virtual_Discussion group on the RCN slack.

All participants can use the thread feature in Slack to post additional questions, and react to comments or questions posed by other groups. We will also have a weekly thread dedicated to resolving questions that emerge from the readings. Moderators will monitor threads and respond to questions. We encourage individuals or groups to use these threads to clarify any uncertainties.

Under Channels click the + and search for 2021-spring-readings

Each week will have two threads:

  • Under the thread Week X. <Topic Name> Post your group's discussions here, click on the chat icon Reply to thread to post a summary of your group’s discussions (see image below).
  • To ask a question about the papers, use the thread Week X. <Topic Name> Questions for Understanding. If you have any technical questions about the papers, post them here and the moderators will do their best to answer them!

Marine Conservation and Genomic Applications

Our third set of coordinated readings focuses on marine conservation and genomic applications. We live in an exciting scientific era in which it has become feasible and affordable to analyze populations at their whole genome level, even in non-model species. Conservation genomics can apply these genetic tools, methods, and concepts to the conservation and restoration of biodiversity. But with so much possibility, we are often restricted by limited time and resources. So what are the ways in which evolutionary concepts and genomic tools can best inform ocean conservation and management?

Discussion Questions:

In the service of that broad question, these three questions can be used as guideposts for each week’s discussions.

  • 1. What genetic factors may lead to extinction?

  • 2. What genetic factors may lead to population stability/growth?

  • 3. Where are we (researchers, practitioners, etc.) on data collection, interpretation, and policy implementation for each week’s topic?

As always, a central goal of the RCN-ECS is to synthesize and integrate ideas about evolution in changing seas. Therefor the final week is for groups to gather together, synthesize previous discussions, and provide answers to the three questions. We encourage groups to generate bold and testable predictions and to distance themselves from simply summarizing past discussions.

We are grateful to this year’s planning committee (Dr. Laetitia Wilkins, Dr. Lisa Komoroske, and Dr. Molly Albecker) as well as the broader RCN community for their efforts in generating topics, discussion questions, and scientific papers.

We recognize that ongoing efforts to minimize transmission of Covid-19 may lead to disruptions or delays in discussions. Please note that while we post “due dates” for discussion summaries to be posted to the Slack channel, these can be viewed as guidelines for spacing out discussions and are not hard cutoffs.

Week 1 (Deadline for discussion January 29, 2021)

Topic - Introduction to Evolutionary Applications & Conservation Genomics

Rationale: Conservation genomics is a broad field with many subdisciplines. These papers will help the RCN establish shared language and examine the utility and origins of these definitions.

Paper 1: (Paper and Link)

Evolutionary principles and genetic considerations for guiding conservation interventions under climate change

Authors: Juan D. Gaitán-Espitia and Alistair J. Hobday

Paper 2:

Why evolutionary biologists should get seriously involved in ecological monitoring and applied biodiversity assessment programs

Authors: Jakob Brodersen and Ole Seehausen

Optional Supplementary Paper:

Genomics and the future of conservation genetics

Authors: Fred. W. Allendorf, Paul A. Hohenlohe, and Gordon Luikart

Week 2 (February 12, 2021):

Topic - Genetic Diversity and Conservation

Rationale: Preserving genetic diversity is often cited as an important target for conservation efforts. What does the science say? Is policy following the science?

Paper 1: (Paper and Link)

The Diversity of Coral Reefs: What Are We Missing?

Authors: Laetitia Plaisance, M. Julian Caley, Russell E. Brainard, and Nancy Knowlton

Paper 2:

Genetic diversity is overlooked in international conservation policy implementation

Authors: Linda Laikre

Optional Supplemental Paper:

Genomic Flatlining in the Endangered Island Fox

Authors: Jacqueline A. Robinson, Diego Ortega-Del Vecchyo, Zhenxin Fan, Bernard Y. Kim, Bridgett M. vonHoldt, Clare D. Marsden, Kirk E. Lohmueller, and Robert K. Wayne,

Week 3 (February 26, 2021):

Topic: Evolutionary Rescue and Resiliency


Evolutionary rescue and genetic rescue have exciting potential to conserve at-risk populations. What have we learned about its implementation?

Paper 1: (Paper and Link)

Genomic and Fitness Consequences of Genetic Rescue in Wild Populations

Authors: Sarah W. Fitzpatrick, Gideon S. Bradburd, Colin T. Kremer, Patricia E. Salerno, Lisa M. Angeloni, and W. Chris Funk

Paper 2:

Species-specific molecular responses of wild coral reef fishes during a marine heatwave

Authors: Moisés A. Bernal, Celia Schunter, Robert Lehmann, Damien J. Lightfoot, Bridie J. M. Allan, Heather D. Veilleux, Jodie L. Rummer, Philip L. Munday, and Timothy Ravasi

Optional Supplemental Papers:

Building coral reef resilience through assisted evolution

Authors: Madeleine J. H. van Oppen, James K. Oliver, Hollie M. Putnam, and Ruth D. Gates

Adaptive introgression as a resource for management and genetic conservation in a changing climate

Authors: Jill A. Hamilton and Joshua M. Miller

Week 4 (March 12, 2021):

Topic: Units to conserve in the era of genomics


If we are interested in applying genomic understanding toward the conservation of species, what genetic units should we focus on? Mitochondrial DNA? Non-coding regions?

Paper 1: (Paper and Link)

Mitogenomic Phylogenetics of Fin Whales (Balaenoptera physalus spp.): Genetic Evidence for Revision of Subspecies

Authors: Frederick I. Archer, Phillip A. Morin, Brittany L. Hancock-Hanser, Kelly M. Robertson, Matthew S. Leslie, Martine Bérubé, Simone Panigada, and Barbara L. Taylor

Paper 2:

Incorporating putatively neutral and adaptive genomic data into marine conservation planning

Authors: Amanda Xuereb, Cassidy C. D’Aloia, Marco Andrello, Louis Bernatchez, and Marie-Josée Fortin

Optional Supplemental Papers:

Genomics and conservation units: The genetic basis of adult migration timing in Pacific salmonids

Authors: Robin S. Waples and Steven T. Lindley

Novel signals of adaptive genetic variation in northwestern Atlantic cod revealed by whole‐genome sequencing

Authors: Gemma V. Clucas, R. Nicolas Lou, Nina O. Therkildsen, and Adrienne I. Kovach

Week 5 (March 26, 2021):

Topic: Hybridization


Some species can interbreed to form hybrids. How does this weigh into conservation and genomics?

Paper 1: (Paper and Link)

The problems with hybrids: setting conservation guidelines

Authors: Fred W. Allendorf, Robb F. Leary, Paul Spruell, and John K. Wenburg

Paper 2:

A Combinatorial View on Speciation and Adaptive Radiation

Authors: David A. Marques, Joana I. Meier, Ole Seehausen

Week 6 (April 9, 2021):

Topic: Oceanography and genetics


Oceanography can strongly impact evolutionary dynamics. Therefore it likely has a strong impact on conservation too. What do we know about it?

Paper 1: (Paper and Link)

Genetic and Biophysical Models Help Define Marine Conservation Focus Areas

Authors: Lisa E. A. Mertens, Eric A. Treml, and Sophie von der Heyden

Paper 2:

When physical oceanography meets population genetics: The case study of the genetic/evolutionary discontinuity in the endangered goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara; Perciformes: Epinephelidae) with comments on the conservation of the species

Authors: E.A. Benevides, M.N.S. Vallinoto, A.F.H. Fetter Filho, J.R.B. de Souza, G. Silva-Oliveira, M.O. Freitas, B.P. Ferreira, M. Hostim-Silva, A.A. Bertoncini, F. Blanchard, and R.A.Torres

Week 7 (April 23, 2021)

Topic: Synthesis

Rationale: How do we best translate genomic science into management action? In addition, groups may consider where do we go from here? Where is consensus? What areas need more research?

Genomics and the challenging translation into conservation practice

Authors: Aaron B.A. Shafer, Jochen B.W. Wolf, Paulo C. Alves, Linnea Bergström, Michael W. Bruford, Ioana Brännström, Guy Colling, Love Dalén, Luc De Meester, Robert Ekblom, Katie D. Fawcett, Simone Fior, Mehrdad Hajibabaei, Jason A. Hill, A. Rus Hoezel, Jacob Höglund, Evelyn L. Jensen, Johannes Krause, Torsten N. Kristensen, Michael Krützen, John K. McKay, Anita J. Norman, Rob Ogden, E. Martin Österling, N. Joop Ouborg, John Piccolo, Danijela Popović, Craig R. Primmer, Floyd A. Reed, Marie Roumet, Jordi Salmona, Tamara Schenekar, Michael K. Schwartz, Gernot Segelbacher, Helen Senn, Jens Thaulow, Mia Valtonen, Andrew Veale, Philippine Vergeer, Nagarjun Vijay, Carles Vilà, Matthias Weissensteiner, Lovisa Wennerström, Christopher W. Wheat, Piotr Zieliński

Response Paper to Shafer et al.: Genomics in Conservation: Case Studies and Bridging the Gap between Data and Application

Authors: Brittany A. Garner, Brian K. Hand, Stephen J. Amish, Louis Bernatchezm, Jeffrey T. Foster, Kristina M. Miller, Phillip A. Morin, Shawn R. Narum, Stephen J. O’Brien, Gretchen Roffler, William D. Templin, Paul Sunnucks, Jeffrey Strait, Kenneth I. Warheit, Todd R. Seamons, John Wenburg, Jeffrey Olsen, Gordon Luikart

Understanding and bridging the conservationgenetics gap in marine conservation

Authors: Annica Sandstrom, Carina Lundmark, Klas Andersson, Kerstin Johannesson, and Linda Laikre

Diversity Statement for Coordinated Readings:

As stated in the RCN-ECS’s diversity and anti-racism statements, we value diverse perspectives and are committed to amplifying the research authored by historically under-represented groups including women, LGBTQ+ persons, non-binary persons, and Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color (BIPOC). In keeping with this goal, we emphasized this aim in our solicitation for topic and paper nominations from the larger RCN community, purposefully requesting nominations from diverse scientists. Our organizing committee took additional steps to choose an inclusive set of papers that highlight the work of diverse scientists in these key topic areas (for example, searching for additional candidates on and Collectively, 18 out of the 21 papers included authors from non-US institutions, at least 14 papers had female-identifying authors, and at least 7 of the 21 papers included BIPOC authors. Despite these efforts, we recognize that there are limitations to our approach, and that the fields of marine science and evolutionary biology have important work to do to build an inclusive and equitable culture. For inquiries about this process or suggestions to further advance these goals in future coordinated readings please contact Molly Albecker.