Third Thursday Web Forum

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November 21st, 2013:  “Identification of evolutionary hotspots based on genetic data and gap analysis of hotspots in protected lands encompassed by the South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative” with Greg Moyer, Regional Geneticist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The southeastern United States is a recognized hotspot of biodiversity for a variety of aquatic taxa, including fish, amphibians, and mollusks.  Unfortunately, the great diversity of the area is accompanied by a large proportion of species at risk of extinction.  Gap analysis was employed to assess the representation of evolutionary hotspots in protected lands where an evolutionary hotspot was defined as an area with high evolutionary potential and measured by atypical patterns of genetic divergence, genetic diversity, and to a lesser extent genetic similarity across multiple terrestrial or aquatic taxa.  A survey of the primary literature produced 16 terrestrial and 14 aquatic genetic datasets for estimation of genetic divergence and diversity.  Relative genetic diversity and divergence values for each terrestrial and aquatic dataset were used for interpolation of multispecies genetic surfaces and subsequent visualization using ArcGIS. Our results must be interpreted with caution given the sparse sampling of populations in many of the datasets; however, our results show the utility of genetic datasets for identifying cross-species patterns of genetic diversity and divergence (i.e., evolutionary hotspots) in aquatic and terrestrial environments for use in conservation design and delivery across the southeastern United States.

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