Micro-evolutionary response to climate change in wild populations
Institute of Zoology
WHAT’S IN A NAME? WOULD A HIHI BY ANY OTHER GENES FLY JUST AS SWEET?
Finally, understanding how wild species respond to climate change when range shift is nearly impossible (e.g. island or fragmented populations) is especially important, as a vast number of threatened species fall into this category. This lack of information hinders our ability to predict and manage the effects of climate change on biodiversity. Dr. Brekke’s study will address this gap by using a novel approach of coupling climate change studies with reintroduction (translocation) biology, focusing on an endemic* New Zealand bird, the hihi. The hihi are endangered forest-dwelling birds, restricted to a single self-sustaining remnant island population. However, they have been subject to a number of reintroductions, which have been intensely monitored. In addition to this data, Dr. Brekke’s pioneering work prompts her to combine experimental translocation and quantitative genetics using multiple life-history traits and climatic factors, with a view to understanding how two contrasting, but not mutually exclusive mechanisms (plastic and genetic) can explain evolutionary responses within populations of the hihi. Besides contributing to our understanding of adaptation to global climate change and informing conservation management and NGO policies, this study will also generate information that could be used in climate change forecasts to predict changes in biodiversity.
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