An evolutionary genomic framework for tackling problems in conservation and biodiversity
Today, the fıeld of conservation biology has risen to the forefront of scientific endeavors as only with a successful translation of conservation science to conservation practices can we hope to combat threats to the sustainability and well being of our ecosystems. As in all fields of the biological sciences the genomic revolution has the potential to rapidly change how we understand and approach conservation studies. The impact of this revolution has been most felt in the applied fields of medical and agricultural sciences. This has resulted in great advances in these fields as well as ever more refined methods for analyzing genomic data. However, the utilization of genomic data in the third major applied field of biology, conservation and environmental studies, is still in its infancy. Currently, genomic methods for conservation biology revolve mostly around describing spatial patterns of genomic differentiation and very little attention has been given to developing new methods that can utilize the vast amount of information available in the genome. One key insight which can be obtained from genome wide data for conservation biology is how the genomic basis of adaptation can directly inform conservation policy. In this talk, I will concentrate on three examples which show how understanding genomic patterns of speciation, evolutionary history and life history evolution can help us solve real life problems in biodiversity and reshape ongoing conservation policies. I will also detail how this approach can be useful in understanding the complex adaptations taking place in organism that are increasingly forced to live under human dominated landscapes. This framework, which merges adaptation genomics with conservation biology, emphasizes the importance of structuring conservation efforts around key adaptive units that strengthen species survival under changing conditions and demonstrates the potential of evolutionary genomics in informing conservation strategies facilitating the preservation of keystone species and ecosystems.