REHYSTRIX: Rodents and climate change (completed)
Evolutionary response of two African Rodent species (Hystrix spp.) to climate changes: the study of the past as an estimate of the future
About the project
Evidences of ongoing global warming, set the study of the reactions of species and ecosystems to climatic change as one of the main issues of Conservation Biology and the development of most accurate and reliable predictive models as crucial. To date, such models are principally based on projecting climatic variables that characterize the current distribution of species on modelled future climatic scenarios (Ecological Niche Modelling). However, accuracy of such predictions are strongly debated thus negatively affecting long-term conservation policy. In this project, analyses of the past range dynamics of two African Rodent species (Hystrix sp) will be used to assess the accuracy of Ecological Niche Modelling predictions by testing paleodistribution models with statistical phylogeography methods. This is one of the major changes made in this resubmission (former HYSTRIX, Proposal N° 235370, FP7-PEOPLE-IEF-2008) according to the Evaluation Summary Report suggestions. This project will take advantage of recent developments in high-throughput sequencing in population genetics, analysis of museum specimens, Ecological Niche Modelling and evolutionary hypotheses testing in phylogeographic analysis. Consistency between phylogeographic analyses and inferences coming from paleodistribution models for both Hystrix species will be assessed. Since the importance of such predictive methods as Conservation Biology tools is widely recognized, the analysis of the accuracy of Ecological Niche Modelling predictions on future climate, by validating its projections on the past through a phylogeographic approach, could provide scientists and policy-makers with a reliable tool to plan effective conservation strategies. This project will place the applicant in an unique position that can make strength of the knowledge in phylogeography acquired during previous experiences and of the top research in climate change biology of the Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, Norway.
This project funded by a Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship.
Start: 1.2.2011. End: 31.01.2013.