Assessing Spatial Patterns in Genetic Diversity Across Species Assemblages

Science Center Objects

WERC's Dr. Amy Vandergast and colleagues merge genetic data with mapping and modeling tools to inform biodiversity conservation efforts. They define evolutionary significant units within species, reveal evolutionary mechanisms responsible for diversification, and identify regions with high genetic diversity for protection.

WERC SOLAR map
A map created using GIS tools to depict genetic diversity within the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. 

Genetic diversity represents a fundamental level of biodiversity. It provides the raw material for selection and diversification and is intimately tied to population size, connectivity and thus persistence and adaptive potential. Through synthesis of many individual species genetic studies (conducted by my lab and others) in overlapping geographic regions, we highlight concordance in genetic diversity patterns in response to historical landscape features, climate and habitat gradients. To visualize and synthesize patterns, we have developed analysis approaches and GIS tools. Resulting synthesis maps identify regional “evolutionary hotspots” where genetic diversity is high within many species, and where adaptive potential to future environmental change may also be high. These identified areas can be incorporated into land use planning efforts.

Visit ArcGIS Online to explore the map generated to visually show potential impacts from renewable technology. 

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