Supervisor: Dylan Fraser
My research takes a macro-ecological approach to investigate North American biodiversity and changes therein. Generally, conservation biology emphasizes the preservation of species diversity, and ecosystems with a high degree of species diversity are considered “healthy” and resilient to changing conditions. However, another critical component of biodiversity is population diversity; whether its role is as significant as species diversity with regards to conservation management and ecosystem structuring remains debatable. Therefore, my research aims to investigate the North American population diversity, specifically within vertebrate species. To do this I am undertaking an extensive review of primary literature to construct a database outlining population-specific genetic characteristics (e.g. level of differentiation, allelic richness, etc). This information will be used to assess population diversity patterns and driving factors across a latitudinal gradient. Rarefaction curves will be then used to assess expected population richness for a given number of individuals. My work not only provides a novel look at biodiversity but also a basis for future work to build on for conservation and managing biodiversity at the population level.