Evolutionary history and past climate change shape the distribution of genetic diversity in terrestrial mammals
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A stable climate and long evolutionary history have made the tropics a biodiversity stronghold.
Genetic variation within a species determines its ability to adapt to environmental change. Understanding the global distribution of this diversity and what causes it is crucial for conservation.
Now, a team that included researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia used sequencing data of two common genes from more than 1,500 species of land animals to map and analyse global genetic diversity.
Regions that underwent rapid climate changes in the past had lower diversity, although it was higher in the tropics, where rainfall varies immensely year on year. Tropical biomes are also extremely old, giving more time for mutations to accumulate within a species.
Protecting the rich diversity in these areas should be a priority under the rising threats of climate and land use change.
- Nature Communications 11, 2557 (2020). doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-16449-5