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An Evolutionary Approach to Biodiversity Conservation: Riverine Floodplains of the European Alps as a Model System

An Evolutionary Approach to Biodiversity Conservation: Riverine Floodplains of the European Alps as a Model System

Objective

The importance of evolutionary relatedness of species is increasingly recognized in both ecology and conservation. What remains is a need for quantitative predictions on the role of evolution and a synthesis of methods. This project uses DNA surveys of aquatic insect communities to measure species diversity and genetic relatedness in riverine floodplains. Riverine floodplains are one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth and create a very high spatio-temporal heterogeneity. Unfortunately, the most diverse and abundant aquatic insects are poorly known at the species level, therefore research that has been carried out to link biodiversity and the spatio-temporal heterogeneity relies on estimates of diversity and has lacked an evolutionary perspective. The project examines the role of habitat heterogeneity in the evolutionary processes of structuring biodiversity by sampling communities from 4 habitat types at each of 6 study reaches along 3 natural riverine corridors in the Alps. It will construct a ‘DNA profile’ of macroinvertebrate communities using DNA sequences and coalescent-based modeling to delineate species, determine the extent of local and regional endemism of species, reconstruct a phylogeny of all samples and calculate phylogenetic diversity of individual habitats, individual reaches, and whole river corridors, and use the resulting tree topology to examine the degree of phylogenetic clustering and overdispersion as a means to quantify the role of evolution in community assembly. The project explores 3 timely research topics: the linkage of ecology and phylogeny, the integration of evolutionary criteria in conservation management, and DNA-based biodiversity surveys. The applicant has high potential for knowledge transfer to the European freshwater science and the implementation of the project. His expertise in river ecology and population genetics, problem-oriented approach as an engineer by training, and international experience will ensure success.
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Coordinator

FORSCHUNGSVERBUND BERLIN EV

Address

Rudower Chaussee 17
12489 Berlin

Germany

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 170 418,35

Administrative Contact

Carla Pinho (Ms.)

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 237026

Status

Closed project

  • Start date

    1 April 2010

  • End date

    31 March 2012

Funded under:

FP7-PEOPLE

Coordinated by:

FORSCHUNGSVERBUND BERLIN EV

Germany