Zoology Biology, Molecular Biology, Genetics
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According to our matching algorithm, Joseph R. Mendelson is the likely recipient of the following grants.
||Title / Keywords
|2002 — 2004
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Dissertation Research: Historical Biogeography of the North American Deserts: a Comparative Phylogeographic Approach
A grant has been awarded to Dr. Joseph Mendelson and Mr. Daniel Mulcahy at Utah State University to conduct a comparative phylogeographic study among three reptile species in western North America. Phylogeographic studies estimate within-species relationships, generally based on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences. These population-level phylogenies-branching diagrams of relatedness-are then overlain on the geographic distribution of the species. Inferences can then be made on the origin, dispersal, and subsequent fragmentation of the species, along with estimates of gene flow, population level interactions, and genetic diversity. As a recently developed technique in biogeography, phylogeographic studies tend to focus on one species at a time. In this study, the authors compare individual phylogeographies among three widespread, distantly related reptile species (Night snake, Side-blotched lizard, and Desert Spiny Lizard). These reptiles occur throughout all the deserts and other major biogeographic regions of western North America. Phylogeographic hypotheses for each species are compared and tested for congruence across these biogeographic regions, with the hypothesis that the formation of these regions themselves influenced gene flow, genetic diversity and evolution within each independent group.
Phylogeographic studies provide an evolutionary framework for studying life-history traits. A wealth of literature exists on the comparisons of body size, and clutch sizes in the lizard species of this study. Providing a phylogenetic hypothesis within these species allows for an evolutionary perspective of such traits. Comparative phylogeographic studies on widespread-common species also provide a framework for assessing patterns of genetic diversity within these species. The geographic range of the species in this study encompasses the entire western United States and northern Mexico, including virtually every National Park west of Colorado and south of the state of Washington. This study will provide data essential for directing conservation efforts across this region.