Functional and Comparative genomics
Ecology and ecosystem management
Bioinformatics and biodiversity informatics
The extinction of species is the most alarming consequence of global biodiversity crisis, an issue that affects our economy and well-being. Despite the efforts to preserve biodiversity, invertebrates, are seriously underrepresented in global conservation efforts and research. This project will disentangle the mechanisms of extinction risk in gastropods by combining genomic data with comparative extinction risk modelling. Using Whole Genome Sequencing, we will search for genomic traits that may be related with the vulnerability to extinction. We will also estimate extinction risk for gastropod species in Europe taking phylogenetic and functional diversity into account. We will also investigate the co-occurrence of threatening anthropogenic processes and the distribution of species to identify hotspots of impacted and coolspots of unimpacted diversity. Last, we will use this information to define a spatial plan for widening the protected areas in Europe. Gastropods are important for ecosystems and human societies; they can serve as a model group for identifying conservation areas for invertebrates and are considered as ideal case studies to extend the currently identified Key Biodiversity Areas. At the same time, they consist taxa with high number of threatened species and the highest levels of endemism in Europe. The results of the project are important for the EU 2030 Biodiversity strategy that underlines the need for specific focus on areas of high biodiversity value and for expansion of the current protected areas. The conservation of biodiversity has also socio-economic impacts, thus unravelling the factors that make some species more prone to extinction than others, is a research area of primary interest in Europe.
The project will be implemented in the Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture (IMBBC) and the Institute of Marine Biological Resources and Inland Waters (IMBRIW).