Integrating individual-based movement information with genetics to better understand the drivers of population structure in birds

Project: HDR ProjectPhD

Project Details


The impact of human-driven landscape degradation on the environment is increasingly worrying. In order to evaluate how animal populations might respond to environmental change and optimise conservation efforts, it is vital to understand their spatial and temporal dynamics and the best way of achieving this knowledge is using a combination of different data sources. The integration of biotelemetry and genetics has been proven to have a huge potential to better understand the drivers of animal movements and population dynamics at a much broader temporal and spatial scale. This research will study the integration of individual-based movement data (biotelemetry) and fine-scale genetics to improve our understanding of fine-scale population processes in birds. Case studies on both Magpie Geese (large, nomadic birds) and grass finches (small, highly mobile birds) will be used to analyse whether individual-based contemporary movement patterns covary with dispersal movements (derived from genetics) and whether these two movement estimates are driven by the same environmental and social dynamics. Specifically, the main aims of this research are (1) to analyse the relationship between the spatial distribution patterns and the genetic structure in large, nomadic birds, (2) to test whether individual-based movements influence fine-scale genetics in small, highly mobile birds and (3) to evaluate the effect of the landscape resistance to individual movement on the long-term genetic structure in birds. The outcomes should provide an improved understanding of the drivers of the fine-scale population structure in birds, as well as their long-term resource needs and interactions with the landscape.
Effective start/end date23/03/20 → …