Historically, novel molecular techniques have been developed by the human genetics community, adapted for nonhuman organisms by evolutionary biologists, and gradually adopted by the wildlife and fisheries communities. Today, evolutionary biologists routinely rely on molecules to assess mate choice, dispersal, parentage, sex ratios, and other population parameters. All in all, the use of molecular genetic markers has revolutionized population biology—human and otherwise. Prescient wildlife and fisheries biologists have recognized the importance of this revolution and are now using molecular genetic tools to evaluate captive or supplemental breeding programs, population dynamics, stocking strategies, and taxonomic issues. Herein, I explore the use of molecular genetic markers to address questions in wildlife biology and management. Specifically, I review how—among other topics—cannibalism, sex-ratios, dispersal, enumeration, genotoxicology, hybridization, and genetically modified organisms can be evaluated in the context of parentage, relatedness, and fitness. As science becomes more integrative and complex, it is easy to envision a future where collaborations between geneticists (who may not have the expertise to obtain the field samples) and wildlife biologists (who may not have the expertise and/or facilities to obtain the genotypes) are common and serve to answer both fundamental and applied questions.
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Vol. 69 • No. 4