Looking backwards to look forward - Conservation genetics in a changing world
Friday Seminar by Rus Hoelzel.
Using genetic markers to assess diversity or existing patterns of population structure is now an important component of conservation strategy, enabling cryptic diversity to be conserved and threatened stocks to be recognised and protected. However, habitat structure can affect population structure, and when environments change, distributions and population boundaries may also change. At the same time, historical demographic changes can have a profound affect on both diversity and population structure.
Here I review some of our studies that attempt to interpret genetic diversity in the context of environmental change, some using coalescent models to assess the timing of population division and the dynamics of populations over time. Others use ancient DNA, sometimes together with simulation models. Investigating population dynamics and diversity patterns from the past (in the context of known environmental change) can help inform about how future changes to habitats and the environment may affect genetic diversity and dispersal, and permit more effective conservation strategies.