Human mediation should be a non-factor in hybridization and conservation

Conservation Science and Practice 6 (6):e13148 (2024)
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Hybridization by introgression (“hybridization”) is a complex topic in conservation. Many conservation decision-makers are concerned about hybridization by introgression because it may threaten species persistence or local phenotypes, among other potential long-term problems. While attitudes have changed towards hybridization as a conservation threat, there are still concerns about hybridization as a problem, particularly if the hybridization was anthropogenically mediated. I propose that these concerns are overblown and that it is misguided to focus on whether hybridization is unintentionally human-mediated. I argue that practitioners should still consider the effects of hybridization on conservation, but the reasons should concern the long-term environmental consequences, such as ecological function and social and cultural that hybridization has, rather than whether humans “caused” the hybrid. I propose a series of steps to think differently about these cases.

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