Author(s): Scriber JM,
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Abstract Comprising 50\%-75\% of the world's fauna, insects are a prominent part of biodiversity in communities and ecosystems globally. Biodiversity across all levels of biological classifications is fundamentally based on genetic diversity. However, the integration of genomics and phylogenetics into conservation management may not be as rapid as climate change. The genetics of hybrid introgression as a source of novel variation for ecological divergence and evolutionary speciation (and resilience) may generate adaptive potential and diversity fast enough to respond to locally-altered environmental conditions. Major plant and herbivore hybrid zones with associated communities deserve conservation consideration. This review addresses functional genetics across multi-trophic-level interactions including "invasive species" in various ecosystems as they may become disrupted in different ways by rapid climate change. "Invasive genes" (into new species and populations) need to be recognized for their positive creative potential and addressed in conservation programs. "Genetic rescue" via hybrid translocations may provide needed adaptive flexibility for rapid adaptation to environmental change. While concerns persist for some conservationists, this review emphasizes the positive aspects of hybrids and hybridization. Specific implications of natural genetic introgression are addressed with a few examples from butterflies, including transgressive phenotypes and climate-driven homoploid recombinant hybrid speciation. Some specific examples illustrate these points using the swallowtail butterflies (Papilionidae) with their long-term historical data base (phylogeographical diversity changes) and recent (3-decade) climate-driven temporal and genetic divergence in recombinant homoploid hybrids and relatively recent hybrid speciation of Papilio appalachiensis in North America. Climate-induced "reshuffling" (recombinations) of species composition, genotypes, and genomes may become increasingly ecologically and evolutionarily predictable, but future conservation management programs are more likely to remain constrained by human behavior than by lack of academic knowledge.
This article was published in Insects
and referenced in Journal of Biodiversity & Endangered Species