A ‘rewilding’ process is occurring in Europe and beyond, centered on landscapes reverting from agricultural use to a more natural state. Wild species are arriving by natural or human-mediated range expansion, at times reclaiming ranges from which they were lost centuries ago. Recent colonizers include alien invasives and species expanding their historical distribution without direct human assistance. These events can deepen our understanding of contemporary evolution, including wildlife responses to changing climatic conditions. Rewilding can advance conservation genomics by encouraging study of wildlife in environments where these species represent novel arrivals or return after prolonged absences. Such efforts could facilitate more experimental approaches to research design than that typically feasible for landscape-scale ecological and evolutionary studies. Correspondingly, developments in conservation genomics offer unparalleled means for testing predictions about rewilding, and advancing evolutionary enlightened and proactive conservation planning. In this perspective article, we examine four European carnivore species relevant as case studies of (re)colonization and/or rewilding, and discuss examples of emerging research opportunities in genomics, evolutionary ecology, and human-wildlife relationships.
Strønen, A. V., Iacolina, L., & Ruiz-González, A. (2019). Rewilding and conservation genomics: How developments in (re)colonization ecology and genomics can offer mutual benefits for understanding contemporary evolution. Global Ecology and Conservation, 17, [e00502]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2018.e00502