Conservation Genomic Analyses of the Endangered Masked Bobwhite Quail (Colinus Virginianus Ridgewayi)
AuthorVargas, Karla Leonor
species distribution modeling
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 03/25/2024
AbstractThe unparalleled rate at which biodiversity is disappearing around the globe has made conservation of imperiled populations an urgent but difficult task. Critical resources are increasingly limited, constraining effective conservation practices. Genetic distinctiveness is an important metric used to prioritize conservation efforts. The masked bobwhite (Colinus virginianus ridgwayi) is a peripheral population and genetically differentiated subspecies of the northern bobwhite. To generate data beneficial to conservation efforts for the endangered masked bobwhite, I used genomic sequencing methods to resolve fine scale evolutionary relationships among the masked bobwhite, Texas bobwhite, and Mexican subspecies of northern bobwhite. I analyzed thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to elucidate genetic diversity patterns and population structure among subspecies, and I applied a maximum entropy approach to generate species distribution models (SDMs) to assess climate variables that affect the geographic distributions, to examine similarity among key subspecies’ habitats, and to project potential habitat suitability of key subspecies under present-day and future climate change scenarios. The results from this study suggest that C. v. ridgwayi, C. v texanus, and C. v. graysoni are more closely related to each other than to other Mexican subspecies and support the genetic distinctiveness of C. v. ridgwayi. SNP analyses suggest some genetic distinction between contemporary and historical samples of the masked bobwhite, which should be further explored since results rely on only one successful historical sample. SDM analyses to estimate climatic variables most important to current and future habitat quality for northern bobwhite showed that specific climate variables that contribute to current and future potential distribution of the northern bobwhite differ when modeling distribution at the species- versus subspecies-level. Also, the distribution of C. v. ridgwayi and C. v. graysoni seemed to be determined by variables other than climate. SDM results suggest possible changes in habitat suitability over time, but the choice of variables and climate models could alter predictions, therefore, the SDM results should be used as a preliminary baseline to direct and build future model development for northern bobwhite. The results from this work could be used by managers for conservation planning and decision making and to aid the recovery efforts for the highly endangered masked bobwhite.
Degree ProgramGraduate College