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Warbler genes predict vulnerabilities to climate change

Cara J

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By sequencing the genome of yellow warblers (Setophaga petechia), researchers with the Bird Genoscape Project at UCLA found some subpopulations’ genes make them more vulnerable to climate change than others. Broadly distributed across North America in the breeding season, yellow warblers spend time in a wide variety of climates, from California’s arid Central Valley, to Canada’s rainy Atlantic provinces. Researchers wanted to use the bird’s genetic information to project how much the population might adapt to “keep up with the pace of climate change,” said lead author Rachael Bay, a postdoctoral researcher at University of California Davis. She and her colleagues collected yellow warbler samples from other researchers, bird banding stations and museums, coming up with samples from 21 different locations. They extracted the DNA from the samples, sent it to a lab for sequencing and compared places throughout the genome that were correlated with environmental variables. Precipitation turned out to be the most important predictor for genomic adaptation in the birds. “There’s quite a bit of evidence of adaptation in the genome,” Bay said. In the Rocky Mountains, they found, the warblers showed high genomic vulnerability, meaning they would have to adapt a lot to climate change. In the [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/warbler-genes-predict-vulnerabilities-to-climate-change/

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