EEB Thursday Seminar: The role of Beringia in high latitude faunal diversification
Joseph A. Cook, Professor of Biology and Director/Curator, Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico
The Beringian Coevolution Project (BCP), a field program underway in the high northern latitudes since 1999, focuses on building basic scientific infrastructure for integrated specimen-based studies on mammals and their associated parasites. BCP has contributed new insights across temporal and spatial scales into how ancient climate and environmental change have shaped faunas, emphasizing processes of assembly, persistence and diversification across the vast Beringian region. BCP collections also represent baseline records of biotic diversity from across the northern high latitudes at a time of accelerated environmental change. Because of the dual focus on hosts and parasites, the BCP record also provides a foundation for comparative analyses that can document the effects of dynamic change on the geographic distribution, transmission dynamics, and emergence of pathogens. Using specific examples from carnivores, shrews, lagomorphs, rodents and their associated parasites, I show how broad, integrated field collections provide permanent infrastructure to explore the effect of climate change on natural populations and inform policy regarding human impacts on these environments.
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