Phylogeographic traits of North Atlantic marine species with different dispersal capacities

Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
The glacial and interglacial cycles of the Quaternary were particularly important in shaping the present distribution and intraspecific diversity of marine species. For instance, species with low dispersal capacities generally retain high and unique genetic diversity at rear edges resulting from long-term persistence. Intraspecific diversity might also be structured by nearshore discontinuities shaped by ocean currents, which have the potential to block the expansion of genes between nearby populations. The main question of this thesis is whether present intraspecific diversity of North Atlantic marine species is determined by the imprint of past climate changes or by allopatric differentiation shaped by strong oceanographic barriers. The student will perform meta-analyses of studies addressing phylogeographic and population genetic traits of species with different dispersal capacities (e.g., fish, invertebrates, algae, etc.). The distribution of sea ice caps and the variation of ocean temperatures will be analysed between the past (e.g., Last Glacial Maximum) and present times. Lagrangian particle simulations will be further conducted to pinpoint important oceanographic barriers halting population connectivity. The main hypotheses to be tested are: 1) the signatures of past range shifts are similarly expressed on the patterns of genetic diversity and structure of species with different dispersal capacities; 2) strong oceanographic barriers shape the genetic structure of species with different dispersal capacities.
Students must own a PC (regular laptop is ok).
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contact person first name: 
Jorge Assis
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Supervisors: Jorge Assis and Ester A. Serrão
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Reference Number: RP-39841