Inbreeding and loss of genetic diversity threaten the long-term survival of many small populations within the EU. These genetic effects can be examined by correlating fitness traits with heterozygosity at a set of molecular markers. Evaluations of such heterozygosity-fitness correlations (Huffs) are expected to come at increasing rates in the future, because markers are continuously being developed for new species, which thereby become accessible to study. Commonly, Huffs are interpreted as selection against inbred individuals. However, such correlations may also be found when there are high levels of linkage disequilibria. Recent studies in humans and plants indicate that linkage disequilibria are more extended than previously assumed. Consequently, the importance of linkage disequilibria in generating HFCsshould not be neglected and needs thorough evaluation. In the proposed project, my aims are to
(i) construct the first linkage map in a passerine bird,
(ii) quantify the linkagedisequilibrium in two populations of great reed warblers with contrasting population histories, and
(iii) evaluate the importance of linkage disequilibria in generating Huffs in natural populations. In line with the objectives of the Marie Curie actions, I will get advanced scientific training within my research profile and increase my research value by undertaking a movement within the EU. By the combination of new genetic technology and ecological research, my project will contribute to enhance Em’s scientific excellence in evolutionary and conservationbiology. Following the objectives of the work programme, my project aims at quantifying and preserving biodiversity, and is therefore of relevance for sustainable development and global change. The visit at the University of Edinburgh will provide opportunities to exchange ideas with several researchers being active within my research field and to initiate long-term international collaborations.
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