The U.S. Endangered Species Act has saved or recovered many species, and is recognized as one of the most powerful laws in the world for protecting the environment. The primary aim of the Act is to ensure that populations and species persist, and to conserve genetic variation in population. But little attention is paid to the adaptive potential of populations—the capability of populations to evolve when faced with new selective pressures—even though new genetic methods of sequencing the entire DNA of organisms are now cheaper and easier than ever before. These new “genomic” methods offer the unprecedented ability of measure how much adaptive potential each population contains. In a new paper, scientists explain how managers, policy makers, and conservationists can harness the power of genomic methods to ensure that protected populations have as much capacity as possible to adapt to a rapidly changing world. The new paper by W.C. Funk and others, including SAFS professor Sarah Converse, appears in the journal Conservation Genetics.