How can genetics help manage and conserve fish, wildlife, and ecosystems?
Genetics contributes in many ways that were unimaginable only a few years ago. In this "age of genomics", there is perhaps no area of science with more potential to improve both nature conservation and the economy or human well-being. For more information, see our Conservation Genetics video or our book (Allendorf et al. 2013)
Five research themes employing genetics at FLBS:
(1) Invasive Species & Disease; (2) Landscape/Riverscape Connectivity and Climate Change; (3) Fitness & Adaptation; (4) DNA Sequencing & Genetic Typing; (5) Data Analysis & Software Development. Details on each research project/theme is below. See Luikart CV for papers.
1. Invasive Species & Disease: how can we stop them?
Preventing Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (Amish et al. publication in prep; Luikart et al. publication in prep.). Partial funding from the National Science Foundation (USA).
Helping to Restore Native Fish Populations: Use of Genetics to Monitor Abundance of Invasive Lake Trout and Native Bull and Cutthroat Trout (Luikart et al. in prep; Waples et al. 2014; Waples et al. 2013; Luikart et al. 2010; Schwartz et al. 2007).
See Luikart CV for papers.
3. Fitness & Adaptation
High Fitness (individual survival and reproduction) is required to maintain healthy fish and wildlife populations. Adaptation (to new environments) is essential to avoid extinction and maintain opportunities for hunting, fishing, as well as ecosystem services.Does adaptation to captivity (a hatchery environment) reduce fitness in the wild? (see Allendorf et al. 2013, pages 360, 364, 390, 401, 406, 408)Discovering Genes and Traits Underlying Adaptation to Environmental Change Using Whole Genome Sequencing. (Hohenlohe et al. 2013; Kardos et al. in review)How Much Does Hybridization Reduce Fitness? Does the environment (climate change) influence the fitness reduction? Can hybridization be adaptive? (Hohenlohe et al. 2013; Muhlfeld et al. 2014; Kardos et al. 2013; Kardos et al. in press).Does inbreeding reduce fitness? Can restoring gene flow (cross-breeding) restore or increase fitness. (Hogg et al. 2006; Tallmon et al. 2004; Kardos et al. 2014).
4. DNA Sequencing and Genetic Typing
Why is DNA marker development important?
"In less than half a century, molecular markers have totally changed our view of nature…." (Schlotterer, 2004, Nat Rev Gen)
We develop and apply new technologies, like exon capture and RAD-capture, for genome wide and gene-targeted marker discovery and analysis in fish and wildlife (Cosart et al. 2011; Hohenlohe et al. 2011, Hohenlohe et al. 2013; Amis et al. 2012; Hand et al. in review)
5. Data Analysis & Software Development
New DNA-marker based estimators of abundance (or number of breeders) or of genetically-effective population size (or a change in abundance) in fish and wildlife populations. (see Luikart and Cornuet 1998; Luikart et al. 2010; Harris et al. 2010; Waples et al. 2013; Waples et al. 2014; Luikart et al. in prep.).Improved Population Genetic Approaches to Identify and Monitor Genetic Change at Adaptive Gene Loci (LOSITAN) (Antao et al. 2008); ExonSampler (Cosart et al. 2014).
Simulating complex (realistic) population scenarios (demography) improves our ability to detect population fragmentation and decline using DNA markers and novel computational approaches (NewAge; AgeNe; LDNe; GARM) (Pérez-Figueroa et al. 2012; Waples et al. 2014; Luikart et al. in prep)(project text coming soon)
Software for simulating & analyzing spatially explicit landscape genetics scenarios improves understanding of landscape connectivity (CDFish; Landguth et al. 2011; GARM; Hand et al. in review)
Connectivity among Argali sheep from Afghanistan and adjacent countries: noninvasive approaches using neutral and candidate gene microsatellites. Funded by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCF). (Harris et al. 2010; Luikart et al. 2011)Cross-species Transmission of Infectious Disease: A Population Genomic Approach Tracking Brucellosis in Wildlife, Livestock, and Humans. (Archie et al. 2009; Beja-Pereira et al. 2009; Cross et al. 2013; Benavides et al. 2014; O'Brien et al. in review). Funded by NSF.