Now that we know how molecular markers can provide us with an almost endless supply of genetic data, we need to know how these data can be used to address specific ecological questions. A logical starting point for this is an exploration of the genetic analyses of single populations, which will be the subject of this chapter. We will then build on this in Chapter 4 when we start to look at ways to analyse the genetic relationships among multiple populations. This division between single and multiple populations is somewhat artificial, as there are very few populations that exist in isolation. Nevertheless, in this chapter we shall be treating populations as if they are indeed isolated entities, an approach that can be justified in two ways. First, research programmes are often concerned with single populations, for example conservation biologists may be interested in the long-term viability of a particular population, or forestry workers may be concerned with the genetic diversity of an introduced pest population. Second, we have to be able to characterize single populations before we can start to compare multiple populations. But before we start investigating the genetics of populations, we need to review what exactly we mean by a population.
Was this article helpful?