Friday, October 21, 2016

Global Genetic Diversity Map

    Throughout history, maps have been used to represent many aspects of the animal kingdom, such as the range, regional mix, and species at risk. Now however, there is a new set of maps designed to show the distribution of genetic diversity around the world. These maps can help track loss of biodiversity and its cause in a certain region. As population geneticist Andreia Miraldo says, "Without genetic diversity, species can't evolve into new species," and "It also plays a fundamental role in allowing species populations to adapt to changes in their environment."

    Miraldo and her research team conducted an experiment in which they gathered geographical coordinates for over 92,000 records of mitochondrial DNA from 4,675 species of land mammals and amphibians. They compared the changes in cytochrome b, a gene used to measure genetic diversity within a species, and mapped the average genetic diversity for all species within areas of about 150,000 square kilometers.
    On the map above, the results show that the tropical Andes and the Amazon have high genetic diversity for both mammals and amphibians, which are shown in dark blue. The South African subtropical regions has high genetic diversity in mammals, while eastern North America has high genetic diversity for amphibians. Results also determined that genetic diversity is 27% higher in the tropics than in non-tropic regions. In conclusion, Industrialized cities and rural areas that are occupied by humans are shown to have very low genetic diversity than wild habitats, as shown in green and yellow. This implies that a lot of human activity could have a large impact on genetic diversity for other species. However, more research has to be done in this area in order to confirm these results and Miraldo hopes to learn more about how human activity and climate change affect global genetic diversity.

  I found this research topic very interesting because it can help us learn more about endangered species and how to save them from extinction. I also think that it can help us as humans to learn the harm and impact our actions have on other living organisms sharing our planet. I believe that it can perhaps prove that climate change is indeed happening and that it's negatively affecting genetic diversity around the world. And maybe when we accept this reality, we can start reducing pollution, deforestation, and over-hunting.


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