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Measuring GENomic diversity change over time in avian enDANGERED species

Project description

Tracing genomic diversity in a rapidly changing environment

As a result of the decline of biodiversity due to human intervention in the environment, the genomic diversity of species is constantly decreasing. The EU-funded GENDANGERED project aims to trace the changes in genomic diversity signatures across the genome after population declines and to predict the efficacy of conservation actions in future environmental conditions. Taking into consideration the insufficiency of approaches focussing on reduced portions of the genome and/or those that are limited to the use of contemporary samples, the project will employ an approach that combines computer modelling with empirical genomic data.


Biodiversity is declining at alarming rates mostly due to anthropogenic impacts, such as climate and land-use change. This in turn generates reductions in the genomic diversity that species require to persist and adapt in the face of future environmental change. Thus, a thorough understanding of how genomic diversity changes in the face of species’ declines is essential for planning conservation actions. The use of genetics in conservation biology has been extremely valuable in recent decades, and the quick adoption of cutting-edge genomics tools offer new and powerful insights, however, important challenges are yet to be tackled. Crucially, the conditions that lead to genomic diversity decline, and the details of how exactly genomic diversity is lost in response to population decline are currently unknown. Current approaches focusing on reduced portions of the genome, and/or limited to the use of contemporary samples, are not enough. To fill these gaps in knowledge, I propose a plan that combines computer modelling with empirical genomic data to unveil signatures of genomic diversity change over time after recent global environmental change. The proposal consists of three complementary steps. (1) Simulate how genomic diversity declines across the genome according to different demographic models. (2) Obtain the first directly observed estimates of the pace, amount and type of genomic diversity change using whole-genome sequencing from historical (i.e. pre-decline) and contemporary (i.e. post-decline) avian samples. (3) Simulate common conservation practices to develop a predictive modelling tool capable of guiding conservation management in light of future environmental change. Altogether, this approach will allow me to dissect how genetic diversity is lost across the genome after population declines, estimate the pace at which this happens over recent time-scale and generate predictions for the efficacy of conservation actions into future environmental conditions.


Net EU contribution
€ 219 312,00
1165 Kobenhavn

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Danmark Hovedstaden Byen København
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 219 312,00