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Genomics assessment of speciation in African bovids

Carlsberg Foundation Reintegration Fellowships

What

This project is about speciation in African bovids. With more than a hundred species the African continent is unique, not only in its species richness of bovids, but also because the majority persisted during environmental change in the late Pleistocene, a period where bovids species on other continents declined. Using whole genome sequencing and population genomics I will explore demographic factor(s) driving the speciation, assess genomic signatures of speciation, and explore why populations within some species progress further on the path to speciation while populations within others show very low differentiation.

Why

The increased climatic warming is a threat to biodiversity globally, and by understanding why some species adapt and speciate while others go extinct, we can make better predictions on how species will adapt to ongoing climate change. Knowledge of species demographic histories and how these have formed current diversity of African bovids may ultimately serve as an indicator for how species will respond to future climate change. Information that is essential for species management and conservation of biodiversity.

How

By combining population genomics, ecological niche modelling and whole genome sequencing of African bovids I aim to explore the factor(s) driving speciation in this system. The expected outcomes of this project includes:

  1. Determining factors driving for speciation and whether species adapt, migrate or go extinct,
  2. Identification of genes associated with speciation and whether these show congruent/incongruent patterns among species
  3. Understanding of evolutionary processes driving speciation in this system.

SSR

The findings of the project will have implications for understanding the evolutionary processes of speciation and species persistence in changing environments. The project will provide a roadmap on utilization of population genomics for wildlife speciation, and the methodology will be directly applicable to other species. All DNA sequence data generated in the project will be made available on online public databases for other to use.