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Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology

Kellar, P. Roxanne [1], Ahrendsen, Dakota [2], Drenkow, Shelly [2], Jones, Amanda [2], Pires, Joseph [3].

Phylogenetic Diversity using massively parallel sequencing: Robust biodiversity metrics for conservation planners.

Earth's ecosystems and natural biodiversity are in danger of being lost due to global climate change and habitat destruction. Conservation efforts focus on protecting geographic regions with the greatest amount of genetic biodiversity that give species the opportunity to adapt to unpredictable future environmental conditions. Biodiversity assessments typically depend on species richness estimations; however, species richness and evolutionary distinctiveness are not always correlated. A significant gap exists between the capabilities of current technologies and the biodiversity assessment tools upon which conservation decisions are made. Our research bridges that gap, demonstrating that the newest sequencing technologies lead to biodiversity assessments that: 1) better characterize evolutionary diversity present in an ecosystem and 2) better inform policy-makers. Using massively parallel (also called next-generation) sequencing to estimate phylogenies and calculate Phylogenetic Diversity (PD) of organisms in an ecosystem represents an enhancement to biodiversity assessment for conservation planning. Multiple PD metrics have been developed, but these metrics have not been compared in an empirical investigation aimed at providing a comprehensive guideline through the assortment of PD metrics. In our investigation, robust phylogenies for two of the dominant plant families in endangered North American tallgrass prairies – Asteraceae and Fabaceae – were estimated at three sites: two in Nebraska and one in Missouri. Eight PD metrics were calculated and compared with species richness. The questions addressed were: 1) How do various PD metrics differentially characterize biodiversity? 2) How are PD and species richness correlated? 3) How does PD vary between angiosperm plant families? and 4) How does PD vary between geographical sites? From total genomic DNA extractions and Illumina sequencing, complete plastid genomes plus nrDNA genes were recovered for 30 species of Asteraceae and Fabaceae for phylogeny estimation. The primary conclusions were as follows: 1) various PD metrics lead to differing interpretations of biodiversity, 2) species richness and phylogenetic diversity are not always positively correlated, 3) PD varies between plant families, and 4) PD varies between sites. These empirical results provide relevant, phylogenetic data, generated with the newest sequence technologies, to scientists and conservation planners, giving them a better understanding of the genetic diversity present in an ecosystem, beyond simple species counts, augmenting the priority-area identification criteria currently used. These results also provide preliminary data for an expanded investigation characterizing biodiversity in multiple ecosystems around the world.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - University of Nebraska at Omaha, Biology, 6001 W. Dodge St. - AH 211A, Omaha, NE, 68182, USA
2 - University of Nebraska At Omaha, Biology Graduate Program, 6001 W. Dodge Street - AH228, Omaha, NE, 68182, USA
3 - University of Missouri, 371 Bond Life Sciences Center, 1201 Rollins Street, Columbia, MO, 65211-7310, USA

conservation planning
next generation sequencing
chloroplast genome.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Topics
Session: 20
Location: Marlborough A/Riverside Hilton
Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
Time: 9:15 AM
Number: 20004
Abstract ID:189
Candidate for Awards:None

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