Assessing the importance of rear edge populations for biodiversity conservation in Southern Iberian Peninsula: a multi-species comparison under a scenario of climate change using amphibians as a model.
Maria Helena Aguiar Gonçalves
In this proposal, we will use precisely the four endemic amphibians mentioned above as model organisms to understand the character and conservation needs of rear edge populations in southern Iberia. More specifically, we will test the predictions that rear-edge populations of these species show i) very distinct genetic compositions and both low levels of genetic diversity and connectivity, ii) a tendency for genetic erosion and even extinction under current scenarios of climate change, and iii) evidence for increased levels of ecological stress. We will do this by combining a molecular characterization of populations at unprecedent levels of resolution using mtDNA, microsatellites and nuclear genealogies with fine-scale bioclimatic modeling and the experimental analysis of ecological performance of amphibian larvae to evaluate the dynamics of rear-edge populations under changing environmental conditions.
Senior Scientist, Assoc. Researcher