Genomics insight into the past and present of Antarctic Biodiversity

A tool to assess the fate of a unique ecosystem in a changing world (GAB)

The Antarctic continent is one of the most pristine and most isolated by the ocean, bathymetry, climate and geographical barriers resulting from the tectonic and climatic events that began in the Eocene. However, the recent acceleration of climate change and anthropogenic pressures can definitely affect Antarctic biodiversity. The Western sector of the Antarctic Peninsula has been described as one of the areas most affected by climate change, therefore, the possibilities of disturbance of this fragile ecosystem have increased, particularly due to the introduction of species and the loss of native biodiversity. . Understanding how Antarctic biodiversity responded to past changes will help us predict the fate of the Antarctic biota by anthropogenic climate change. In this context, our proposal constitutes an associative program of researchers from five national institutions, supported by a collaborative network that includes national and international researchers, who work in the Southern Ocean (OA). Our main objective is to understand the historical and contemporary effects of climate change on the diversification, demographic history and adaptation of Antarctic biodiversity (including microorganisms, invertebrates and vertebrates) based on genomic data. Our data analyzes include approximations to establish population genetic structure, phylogeographic patterns and adaptation. In addition, we will combine the genetic results with data from environmental variables to model the ecological niche and therefore the past distribution (last glacial maximum – UMG), present and future of the different operational taxonomic units (species) and their lineages. This information will make it possible to understand the response and resilience of the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic biota during climate change events and, therefore, predict the fate of this unique biogeographical province in the face of anthropogenic changes.

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Genomics Antarctic Biodiversity 2018