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B417: Range expansions and local adaptaion in sharks and rays (Lead Supervisor: Andrea Manica, Zoology)

Supervisors: Andrea Manica (Zoology) and Pierpaolo Maisano Delser (Trinity College Dublin

Importance of the area of research:

In the face of global change, species have to move and adapt to new conditions. Our ability to predict how species will respond to change is, however, very limited. By looking at past changes in range and subsequent adaptations, we will investigate the relative roles of connectivity and localised selection in shaping populations and their differences. This knowledge is essential to forecast how species will fare in the face of global change and inform possible management strategies to ensure their conservation.

Project summary:

When species expand their range, they often encounter new environmental challenges. How individual populations adapt to their local environment is still poorly understood, since local adaption is counteracted by connectivity, leading to a complex dynamics. This project will use advanced population genetics modelling to study the process of local adaption in sharks and rays, which include both species that move great distances as well as species which are much more restricted in their range. We will also investigate the importance of hybridisation, which can allow species to quickly adapt to new conditions (incompatibility between mitochondrial and whole-genome trees suggest that hybridisation is potentially widespread in sharks and rays).

What the student will do:

This project is mostly computational. The student will have access to large population genomics datasets made available by collaborators. There might be the opportunity for some field and labwork, but those would be a minor component of the project.

Please contact the lead supervisor directly for further information relating to what the successful applicant will be expected to do, training to be provided, and any specific educational background requirements.

References:

Corrigan et al. (2017) Historical introgression drives pervasive mitochondrial admixture between two species of pelagic sharks. Mol Phylogenet Evol

Pinehro et al (2017) Island biogeography of marine organisms. Nature

Momigliano et al (2017) Genetic structure and signatures of selection in grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos). Heredity

Follow this link to find out about applying for this project.

Other projects available from the Lead Supervisor can be viewed here.

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