What controls phenotypic and genetic diversity? Case studies with amphibians.

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Genetics Evolution and Environment


Species range and genetic structure are two major components to population-resilience in an ecologically fragmented, climate change future; However, distribution varies significantly even amongst closely related or phenotypically similar species. By studying related, sympatric species along an ecological cline we aim to quantify and discover relationships between ecological, phenotypic and genetic diversity, and how this impinges upon population-resilience and capacity to respond to change. As evolutionary innovators with enormous taxonomic diversity occupying a spectrum of ecological niches and geospatial regions, anuran amphibians provide an excellent system for investigating phylogeographic questions. Here we will investigate various population characters including genetic structure, diversity and gene-flow alongside ecological and morphological traits in a non-model amphibian system. This project will focus on three Korean Rana species which share some degree of sympatry but with variation in morphology and genetic relatedness. Due to the varying degrees of sympatry between the study species, geospatial changes in genetic diversity can be investigated along ecological clines (e.g. montane to lowland). Furthermore, the use of reduced-representation genomic sequencing in this project will offer a much higher resolution analysis of patterns of genetic diversity within and between species than previous locus-based studies.


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