Survival and adaptation
Genetic diversity plays an important role in the survival and adaptability of a species. When a population’s habitat changes, the population may have to adapt to survive; the ability of the population to adapt to the changing environment will determine their ability to cope with an environmental challenge. Variation in the population’s gene pool provides variable traits among the individuals of that population. These variable traits can be selected for, via natural selection, ultimately leading to an adaptive change in the population, allowing it to survive in the changed environment. If a population of a species has a very diverse gene pool then there will be more variety in the traits of individuals of that population and consequently more traits for natural selection to act upon to select the fittest individuals to survive.
Genetic diversity is essential for a species to evolve. With very little gene variation within the species, healthy reproduction becomes increasingly difficult, and offspring are more likely to have problems resulting from inbreeding. The vulnerability of a population to certain types of diseases can also increase with reduction in genetic diversity. Concerns about genetic diversity are especially important with large mammals due to their small population size and high levels of human-caused population effects.
The Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources is an agreed international framework for the management of animal genetic resources for food and agriculture. It was developed under the auspices of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agricultureand adopted in September 2007 by the International Technical Conference on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, held inInterlaken, Switzerland, along with the Interlaken Declaration on Animal Genetic Resources. The Global Plan of Action and the Interlaken Declaration were later endorsed by the Thirty-fourth Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which took place in November 2007.