Integrating phylogenetic relationships and population structure for conservation planning in Galliformes
Eo, Soo Hyung
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Genetic components and evolutionary processes are critical to explain variation in both extinction risks among species and population structures within species because they generate and maintain adaptive biological variation. To understand phylogenetic relationships among fowl species, I constructed supertree of orders Galliformes (chicken-like birds) and Anseriformes (duck-like birds). Using formal algorithmic procedures and source trees available, supertree methods are able to represent such a large clade phylogeny, which is almost impossible with conventional approaches using either molecular or non-molecular data. My Galloanserae supertree represents one of the most comprehensive estimates for the group to date, including 376 species (83.2% of all species; all 162 Anseriformes and 214 Galliformes). The use of this phylogenetic supertree enables us to apply comparative analysis, considering phylogenetic independence, to describing their remarkable diversity of life history, morphology, behavioral ecology, conservation biology, and other evolutionary processes across species. Below species level, it is critical that we understand genetic identity as the basis for the conservation and management of the species and surrounding habitat. Using mitochondrial and nuclear microsatellite loci, I investigated intraspecific genetic relationships among northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus). There was extremely high genetic differentiation between isolated Arizona northern bobwhites (masked bobwhite, C. v. ridgwayi) and the other subspecies (C. v. marilandicus, C. v. virginianus, C. v. floridanus, C. v. mexicanus, C. v. taylori, and C. v. texanus). Based on genetic structure and geographic ranges, my results suggest that each of C. v. ridgwayi and C. v. floridanus should be considered as a distinct unit for conservation or management, supporting current subspecies limits. However, C. v. virginianus, C. v. marilandicus, C. v. mexicanus, and C. v. taylori may be considered a single management unit because levels of genetic divergence among these putative subspecies were quite low. Among all analyzed subspecies, masked bobwhite has the lowest diversity in all genetic information. Therefore, it is highly recommended to set conservation priority to the masked bobwhites as an independent conservation unit.