CIE Seminar Series 2016 – Understanding species connectivity and environmental adaptation using landscape genetics

Rachael DudaniecSPEAKER: Dr Rachael Dudaniec, Lecturer in Biological Sciences (Conservation Biology), Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney

DATE: Friday, 22nd July 2016
LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, room Ka4.207
TIME: 1:30pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood, Burwood Corporate Centre (BCC) and Warrnambool Campus, Room J2.22

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ABSTRACT: Within today’s rapidly changing world, species are faced with great challenges to their dispersal and adaptive capacities, which together underlie the persistence of biodiversity.

Molecular genetic approaches offer unrivalled tools to characterise these challenges for the benefit of conservation management. However, new ways of combining spatial and genetic information are needed to aid conservation of species’ connectivity, to understand range expansion potential and to assess evolutionary persistence.

My research employs recent landscape genetics and genomics techniques, including genotype x environment analyses to unravel the spatial genetic processes that govern species movement and local adaptation to environment. Specifically, I ask, how do landscape features and environmental factors limit or facilitate gene flow and local adaptation of species? The increasing accessibility of genomic data and advances in modeling tools have rapidly enhanced our ability to address these questions.

I will present some recent advances and applications of landscape genetics/genomics, with examples from threatened small Australian mammals (koala, gliders) in urbanised landscapes, and range-expanding damselflies in Europe. In doing so, I will discuss the future potential of landscape genomics to inform conservation strategies and help understand evolutionary processes.

BIO: Rachael Dudaniec is a Lecturer in Conservation Biology at Macquarie University (since August 2015), and leads the Landscape and Evolutionary Genomics Lab. Prior to this, Rachael completed post-doctoral positions in the field of landscape genetics and genomics at the University of British Columbia in Canada, the University of Queensland in Brisbane, and at Lund University in Sweden.

Rachael completed her PhD at Flinders University in Adelaide on the molecular ecology of parasites in Darwin’s finches with Prof Sonia Kleindorfer. Currently, Rachael’s research focuses on developing landscape genetics and genomics methods to address conservation issues, and to characterise the molecular signatures of environmental adaptation.

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via Natasha Kaukov.