Skip to main content

Integrating environmental and population variation: a model for biodiversity studies

Objective



Biodiversity expresses the variety of organisms and the variety of habitats. We currently have no good general explanations for the dynamics and distribution of biodiversity.
Objectives:
- Understanding ecosytem-organism interactions generating biodiversity; - Devising measures to quantify the expression of biodiversity. Achieving objectives:
- Quantifying organismal variation in relation to levels of gene flow; - Mapping this variation onto environmental variation;
- Quantifying relative roles of phenotypic, genotypic and environmental variation in the generation of biodiversityi
- Determining the nature of reproductive barriers between populations in different species.
The environment
- The rocky intertidal, presenting a linear, patchy environment with a pronounced gradient, providing a continuum of changing habitats. The organisms
- Periwinkle snails (Mollusca: Gastropoda)- ecologically
important grazers;
- Provide the range of population genetic structures needed for this study, building on an existing body of foundation work.
Techniques
- Phenotype - analysis using multivariate methods on shell
shape, and thermal tolerance to determine the adaptive extent of physiolo gical variation;
- Genotype - electrophoretic determination of enzyme polymorphisms, two-dimensional electrophoresis of general proteins, analysis of myoglobins for non-enzymatic protein variation, molecular techniques to determine DNA polymorphisms so as to compare these measures with enzyme based approachesi - Some techniques are novel, needing to be developed in this study. Towards an operational concept of biodiversity:
- We shall elucidate mechanisms in the transition from polymorphic, interbreeding populations to those of species status, and investigate the distinction from phenotypic plasticity, all within a well characterised environment. This will allow integration of concepts of niche width and relative variation with biogeography, breeding ecology, and gene flow, leading to an understanding of the dynamics of biodiversity at a time of accelerating environmental change and extinction.
The partnership
- emphasises a multi-disciplinary approach with a high level of comple mentarityi active steps will be taken to disseminate the information obtained.

Coordinator

UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS
Address
Clarendon Way
LS2 9JT Leeds
United Kingdom

Participants (3)

ROYAL BELGIAN INSTITUTE FOR NATURAL SCIENCES
Belgium
Address
29,Vautierstraat 29
1000 Bruxelles
Regional Technical College Galway
Ireland
Address
Dublin Road
Galway
Universidade dos Açores
Portugal
Address
58,Rua Da Mae De Deus
9502 Ponta Delgada