Adapting to a changing world
The global climate is changing at an unprecedented rate, approaching conditions last seen globally over 3 million years ago. Impacted by the compounding effects of climate change, habitat modification, invasive species and direct exploitation (e.g., fishing and hunting), species across the globe are threatened with extinction. Key to the effective management of global biodiversity is the understanding of how species may (or may not) rise to the challenge of climate change: can species adapt? Which species will adapt? How will they adapt? The answers to these questions are elusive and complicated.
So it might have been a hot minute since I’ve posted (sorry about that!). But rest assured, new content is in the works, and will be up shortly. In the meantime, however, I’m delighted to announce that not only will I be participating in the science communication event #MyScienceMay (as organised by Avid Research and Let’s Talk SciComm), but that The G-CAT is now live on Instagram! You can check me out @thegeneticscat, where I’ll be posting a combination of brief insights into my research; short summaries of relevant conservation genetics topics; animal facts and wildlife photography; and more of my day-to-day.
That’s not to say the long-form blog approach is going anywhere: I still very much enjoy writing these lengthier, more descriptive posts. But the Instagram will provide some bite-sized content in between the longer posts to provide more regular and easily digestible information (that’s the aim, anyway).
With that said, I hope you’ll tune in throughout May to see what I’ve been up to and my current projects. I’ll be alternating context between Instagram and my Twitter (@fishlogeography), but may attempt to collate it all here somewhere.
Welcome to 2022! Boy, the last two years have not been overly kind…but here’s hoping that things (globally) will improve! Here, I thought it would just give a little recap about what’s been happening on my end, and what to expect from me (and The G-CAT) in 2022.
The utility of a reference genome
In the 18 years since the completion of the Human Genome Project, the practicality of assembling full genomes for a wide range of taxa beyond ourselves has only improved. While model taxa systems have achieved genomes before many others, it is now possible for whole genomes to be assembled for a range of non-model organisms as well. But how do we assemble the genome of a species for the very first time (often de novo – literally “from the new”)? What can we do with this genome? Why is it so useful? Let’s delve into the process and outcomes of genome assembly a little more.
Reconstructing evolutionary history
Unravelling the evolutionary history of organisms – one of the main goals of phylogenetic research – remains a challenging prospect due to a number of theoretical and analytical aspects. Particularly, trying to reconstruct evolutionary patterns based on current genetic data (the most common way phylogenetic trees are estimated) is prone to the erroneous influence of some secondary factors. One of these is referred to as ‘incomplete lineage sorting’, which can have a major effect on how phylogenetic relationships are estimated and the statistical confidence we may have around these patterns. Today, we’re going to take a look at incomplete lineage sorting (shortened to ILS for brevity herein) using a game-based analogy – a Pachinko machine. Or, if you’d rather, the same general analogy also works for those creepy clown carnival games, but I prefer the less frightening alternative.