Thu 07 Oct 2010: 4pm-6pm @DBS CR1 – Conservation genetics of primates and forest fragments in Costa Rica

Two seminars by visiting researchers from Costa Rica this Thursday, 7th October 2010 from 4pm to 6pm at Conference Room 1 (S3-05).
Host: Zeehan Jaafar
(Link to pdf of poster)

Thu 07 Oct 2010: 4pm-5pm
“Genetics and health of monkeys from Costa Rica: implications for conservation”
Dr. Gustavo Gutiérrez
School of Biology, University of Costa Rica

About the talk – Although the four species of monkeys from Costa Rica are declining in abundance and distribution, very few studies have examined the genetic variation and the general health status of these species and addressed the issue of biological conservation. We investigated the genetic structure and the general health status of the four species of monkeys from different regions in Costa Rica. We compared genetic variation within populations and between populations. In addition to the analysis of genetic variation, we also measured some morphologic features and check for their health status. We examined the incidence of virus, bacteria, parasites, and fungi infection among others, and presence of chemicals from agriculture. The health status knowledge together with the genetic information will be used to propose a management scheme to preserve and protect these species. Data on the amount and distribution of genetic diversity is crucial for the development of management schemes that assure the medium- and long-term preservation of species.

About the Speaker – Dr. Gutiérrez is a professor at the University of Costa Rica. He is largely interested
in human genetics and conservation genetics.

Thu 07 Oct 2010: 5pm-6pm
“Phenology, reproduction and gene flow in the face of forest fragmentation: The reproductive ecology and conservation genetics of tropical trees in Costa Rica.
Dr. Eric Fuchs Castillo
Biology Department, Universidad de Costa Rica

About the talk – Fragmentation of tropical forests due to deforestation and human expansion has changed once continuous tropical landscapes into a network of poorly connected fragments surrounded by agricultural fields, urban settlements or abandoned sites. The immediate effects of fragmentation are a reduction of population sizes, local population extinction, and increased genetic isolation. The reproductive biology of many tropical tree species has not been characterized; additionally tropical trees are generally long-lived which makes it difficult to assess the long- term effects of forest fragmentation on population dynamics and genetic diversity. We have studied phenology, reproductive biology and demographic dynamics of tropical tree species in the pacific coast of Costa Rica. We have also assessed the effects of forest fragmentation, habitat disruption and selective logging on the genetic diversity and gene flow patterns of these species.

Our results show that deforestation and forest fragmentation have important consequences on the reproductive biology of tropical tree species. The progeny of isolated trees shows increased genetic relatedness and limited genetic diversity. Phenology is an important factor shaping the mating dynamics of fragmented populations. We also have evidence which suggests that for some species pollinators are able to move pollen over long distances and across altered landscapes, effectively linking forest fragments. This variation in vulnerability of tropical trees to fragmentation should provide important information for the development of effective conservation strategies.

About the Speaker – Dr. Castillo is a professor at the University of Costa Rica. He is largely interested in quantitative and population genetics of plants.

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