For the evolutionary biologist, the study of dispersal and gene flow is particularly interesting in island systems and fragmented landscapes as they produce ideal conditions to understand animal movements and the effects of reduced gene flow on speciation. South American table mountains (tepuis) are often credited as continental counterparts of oceanic islands. The tepuis originated long before the ice ages, and their nutrient-poor summits experienced limited surface renewal. It is unknown if these peculiar conditions affected the population genetics and population dynamics of their fauna. The combination of ancient origin and striking isolation has always greatly influenced our perception of the tepui summits animal populations, which were hypothesized to be ancient and genetically highly structured across tepui tops. However, we discovered that most vertebrate populations across tepui summits are very closely related. The main aim of this study is to grasp the causality of this conundrum and to characterize its consequences on the evolution of Pantepui organisms by investigating the dispersal abilities, microhabitat use, population size, population dynamics and gene flow within populations of three tepui summit endemic amphibian and reptile taxa.
|Short title||FWO Research Grant|
|Effective start/end date||1/01/18 → 31/12/18|
Flemish discipline codes
- Animal ecology