CONSERVATION GENETICS

Conservation genetics is a transdisciplinary theme using recent advances in genomics and evolutionary genetics to provide a scientific framework to the survey, conservation and restoration of biodiversity. It is a powerful tool that answers a major societal concern, and is increasingly used upstream of conservation strategies.

Within the team, we use a variety of approaches through different spatiotemporal scales (phylogeny, phylogeography and population genetics) to tackle applied biological issues including:

– the conservation of heritage species
– the dynamics of invasive species
– the management of captive stocks
– the tracing of illegal wildlife trade.

As an upstream step, we also investigate the theoretical framework on which is based the interpretation of evolutionary patterns (e.g. species boundaries, Evolutionarily Significant Units, concept of heritage species in an evolutionary framework, concept of barcode).

The specificity of our approach lies in the application of the molecular tool to conservation strategies, involving the accompaniment of scientific benefits among local partners.

The technical framework of our investigations is supported by the platform “degraded DNA” of ISEM to develop non-invasive methods for the monitoring of wild populations. In addition, we are particularly interested in the application of genomics ‘tools’ (mitogenomes, genotyping by sequencing, metabarcoding) to biodiversity conservation issues.

Some ongoing projects:

1) Molecular tracing of the bushmeat trade in tropical Africa.
2) Molecular characterization of lagoon trophic networks through the diet of the Mediterranean gobies (Pomatoschistus): application to the management of the Mediterranean lagoon ecosystems.
3) Application of genomics and non-invasive methods to the study of the natural history of a taxon with high patrimonial value, the African Wolf (Canis lupus lupaster).
4) Evolution of pangolins (Pholidota) and setting up of an integrative tool to trace their their global trade.
5) Assessment of the genetic diversity of a highly endangered Amazonian fish (genus Arapaima) using non-invasive sampling and high-throughput sequencing.