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Testing the Relative importance of factors in speciation: the Martinique Anoles


Biodiversity, in the term of genetic diversity, can be generated within a species, although an increase in biodiversity is usually thought of as involving an increase in the number of species by speciation. Speciation is thus of key interest to both ecologists and evolutionists.

The traditional view of speciation is that it generally involves divergence of populations over time while they are geographically apart (vicariance). This view has recently been increasingly challenged and more emphasis has been placed on ecological speciation.

The central issue of this project is to test the relative importance of the various factors potentially influencing speciation, i.e. vicariance, natural selection and sexual selection. The Martinique anole is an outstanding model for such a study. Indeed, in this model all the factors (history, habitat, sexual selection, gene flow) are tractable or known.

Moreover, it offers several natural replicates that can improve the generalisation of results. Reduction of gene flow (as measured using micro-satellites) will be estimated on several transects between deep phylogenetic lineages (test of vicariance), between different colour morphs (test of sexual selection) and between different habitats (test of natural selection).

This project will allow the applicant to develop new skills especially in data analysis and is highly complementary with his previous research experience. This project will allow knowledge transfer from host to the fellow through research training, and from fellow to host, which is situated in a less favoured region. The training will provide the fellow with a unique set of skills that will allow him to become an independent researcher in the areas of interest.

The combination of skills of Host and fellow covering the who le range of skills needed for molecular ecology studies, will result in a high quality scientific project in a field that is currently the focus of intense interest, the generation of biodiversity.

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