This project seeks to develop a tool that strategically identifies priority areas for land protection. This is a pilot study to assess the extent of taxa that contain adequate genetic sampling within the south Atlantic ecoregion for characterization of intraspecific genetic variation. We seek to use genetic data from multiple taxa coupled with GIS data to provide a genetic landscape from which geographic patterns of intraspecific genetic diversity will be inferred. Joint analyses of the resulting genetic landscapes will be used to identify geographic areas where multiple species show atypical patterns of interpopulation divergence or intrapopulation diversity (i.e., a hotspot of high biological value). We will then assess the correlation (or lack thereof) between observed hotspots and current priority conservation areas.
Specific objectives include:1) Compilation of previously published genetic datasets from species that contain adequate genetic sampling within the southeast Atlantic ecoregion;2) Characterization of geographic patterns of intraspecific genetic diversity and joint analyses of the resulting genetic landscapes for identification of geographic areas where multiple species show atypical patterns of interpopulation divergence or intrapopulation diversity (i.e., a hotspot);3) Correlation of hotspots against current priority conservation areas;4) Development and implementation of environmental DNA protocols for monitoring of aquatic invasive species for National Wildijfe Refuges across the Piedmont - South Atlantic Coast Ecosystem.As such, this study should provide a quantitative assessment of whether current priority conservation initiatives adequately protect areas of high biological value. If priority conservation areas are not correlated with areas of high biological value, then these data.
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