Mark Phuong L&S Sciences
Species or lineages? Distribution modeling of ancient, phylogeographic lineages of California ground squirrels under present, past, and future climates
Species Distribution Models (SDMs) provide one of the only methods for projecting the future distribution of species and are increasingly used to prioritize conservation efforts. SDMs correlate species’ occurrence points with climatic variables (e.g., temperature and precipitation) to produce a distributional map of the climatic limits of a species. Genetic studies of geographic variation within species, or phylogeography, often uncover cryptic lineages that have remained evolutionarily isolated for thousands to millions of years. My research assesses how identifying cryptic diversity within species affects the predictions of SDMs. Faced with climate change, accurately identifying critical regions for management remains a key issue in effectively conserving Earth’s biodiversity.
See Mark’s interview on the Understanding Evolution web site, a project of the University of California Museum of Paleontology.