Life on the edge: A new bioinformatic toolbox to conserve wildlife populations under threat from global change

Global change threatens biodiversity, with many species unable to respond fast enough to changing conditions due to rapid climate change and anthropogenic impacts. Population declines are our early warning signals for larger scale declines in species, so assessing the adaptive capacity of populations within species and quantifying their vulnerability under future global change remains a priority for biodiversity research.

This is the focus of my recently funded project, “Life on the edge: A new bioinformatic toolbox to conserve wildlife populations under threat from global change”, for which I obtained a 3 year grant from sDiv, the synthesis centre of iDiv (German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research). In this project I’ll integrate ecological (traits, species distribution models), environmental (climate change forecasts, landscape connectivity) and genome-wide molecular data (neutral and adaptive diversity) for populations across multiple species in a novel, automated and extendable climate change vulnerability assessment framework.

The work is inspired by this excellent publication, and includes the following collaborators:

Orly Razgour, University of Exeter, UK
Renske Onstein, iDiv, Leipzig, Germany
Malin Pinsky, Rutgers University, NJ, USA
Hjalmar Kühl, MPI-EVA and iDiv, Leipzig, Germany
Sebastian Steinfartz, University of Leipzig, Germany

I’ll post updates on this work as it develops, it will integrate over 100 species datasets across Africa and Europe, and involve a lot of automating complex code from a variety of different sources. There will be a GitHub site coming soon to act as a central repository for the code.

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