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Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology

Aust, Shelly [1], Ahrendsen, Dakota [1], Kellar, P. Roxanne [2].

Phylogenetic Diversity assessment: A comparison between two grassland prairies using asterids and next-generation sequencing.

As ecosystems change due to anthropogenic actions, a biodiversity crisis is ensuing.  In order to conserve the Earth’s biodiversity, conservation of evolutionary diversity is a priority.  Species in a community that are more evolutionarily diverse have a better chance to adapt to the changing environment and maintain ecosystem functioning.  Phylogenetic Diversity (PD) measures the evolutionary distance between taxa in a community and is gaining acceptance as a biodiversity assessment metric.  New scientific methods and tests are being developed that look promising for measuring PD, but a guide through the assortment of metrics is needed.  PD is often difficult to measure due to time and cost, and previous studies suggested species richness or functional diversity as a surrogate.  However, studies have found these measurements do not always give the same result and may lead to different conservation strategies. Our study focused on a comparison of species richness, functional diversity, and eight PD metrics in the asterid clade of flowering plants between two endangered grassland prairies in Nebraska.  The research incorporated massively parallel (also known as next-generation) sequencing, which generated approximately 60,000 DNA characters that were used to estimate robust phylogenies and calculate various PD metrics.  Phylogenies were estimated with a few genes commonly downloaded from Genbank such as matK and rbcL, and were compared to phylogenies estimated from several genes.  As a measure of functional diversity, specific leaf area was determined for each species and the K statistic and consistency index were calculated.  Since it is difficult to sample every organism in a region to determine biodiversity, the PD metrics calculated for the asterids served as a surrogate for all organisms in the selected region.  The questions investigated were:  1) Do various PD metrics lead to different estimates of biodiversity? 2) Does PD vary between geographical sites? 3) Are PD, species richness, and functional diversity correlated? and 4) How do different data sets affect PD metrics?  PD metrics were calculated and compared to species richness and functional diversity.  The conclusions were:  1) Various PD metrics lead to different interpretations of biodiversity, 2) PD varied between sites, and 3) PD, species richness, and functional diversity are not positively correlated.  Analysis of PD metrics calculated from phylogenies estimated from different data sets is underway.  This study provides empirical results illustrating the value of measuring PD when considering sites for conservation when the goal is to protect sites with the greatest evolutionary diversity.

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1 - University Of Nebraska At Omaha, Biology Graduate Program, 6001 W. Dodge Street - AH228, Omaha, NE, 68182, USA
2 - University Of Nebraska At Omaha, Plant Biology Graduate Program, 6001 W. Dodge St. - AH 211A, Omaha, NE, 68182, USA

phylogenetic diversity
next-generation sequencing
grassland prairies.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Topics
Session: 27
Location: Firs North/Boise Centre
Date: Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Time: 2:00 PM
Number: 27003
Abstract ID:508
Candidate for Awards:None

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