POPULATION GENOMICS AND THE VIABILITY OF THE ENDANGERED SANJE MANGABEY (CERCOCEBUS SANJEI)IN THE UDZUNGWA MOUNTAINS, TANZANIA

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: School of Biosciences

Abstract

This PhD project will examine the population genomic diversity and structure of the endangered Sanje mangabey
for the first time, use the data produced to parameterise models for population viability analysis and contribute
to a management plan for this endangered and highly localised primate. As an iCASE award, the student will be
based at Cardiff University, in the Organisms and Environment Division of the School of Biosciences, and at Bristol
Zoo Gardens, Conservation Science and Research group (BZG), which the non-academic supervisor, Dr Grainne
McCabe has recently joined to head up.
This will be a truly multidisciplinary project, using core science to inform and facilitate the development of a
national and regional biodiversity action plan for an increasingly threatened group of flagship taxa for east
Africa's remaining forested areas. The project involves innovative use of population genomics (genomic host DNA
capture from fecal material), including bioinformatics analysis of genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism
data to elucidate population-level genomic diversity and differentiation between the last two populations of
Sanje mangabeys in Tanzania. The application of genomics to conservation has recently received a lot of
attention (eg Shafer et al 2015, TREE 30: 78), in which the academic supervisor as co-Chair of the recently
established IUCN specialist group in Conservation Genetics, has been active.
The proposed studentship will therefore act as a model in which genome-wide diversity (as opposed to DNA
profiling using a handful of genetic markers) will be applied to conservation prioritisation, and the student will be
based in a laboratory internationally recognised to be leading in this area of research. In addition to the genomics
analysis, the project will use both genetic and demographic data to carry out a population viability assessment
(PVA) for the species with the aim of proposing targeted conservation actions.
The student will be embedded within BZG's Tanzania program and will be not only carrying out much of the field
work associated with the project but will also, in collaboration with the non-academic supervisor, help develop
both a species-specific and region-wide conservation management plan for forest primates in the region. This will
provide highly relevant skills for future application within a conservation context.

Publications

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