PhD, Post Doc, Iowa State University
Location: Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela
Research: Metapopulation Genetics of the freshwater turtle Podocnemis unifilis
Species/Topic: Podocnemis unifilis
Abstract: Conservation is paramount to preserving biodiversity, and implementing effective management programs requires solid information of the biology of the target species. Essential ecological knowledge from field studies can be substantially aided by modern molecular methods. For instance, molecular approaches enhance conservation efforts by helping our understanding of important parameters (such as population structure, kinship, inbreeding depression, reproduction, group structure, dispersal, and cooperation) that affect metapopulation dynamics and individual fitness. Despite requiring such genetic information to develop successful conservation strategies for the South American freshwater turtle Podocnemis unifilis, no study has been conducted at a scale that encompasses the wide distribution of this endangered species. Here we propose to conduct the first metapopulation genetic study of P. unifilis to fill this gap, and to provide the phylogenetic context in which to further investigate life history evolutionary ecology in this genus of the understudied Pleurodiran turtles.