The gray wolf is one of the most widely distributed terrestrial species and inhabits a wide variety of environments. While most research is focused in Europe and North America, the wolves of Asia are both little studied and appear to have a complicated phylogeographic history. Only recently, divergent maternal lineages of wolves have been recognized in North Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and high altitude Central Asia, yet more research needs to be done to learn about their genomic distinctiveness and how past processes may have shaped patterns in their genetic diversity. Like many species in Asia, wolves face numerous threats towards their persistence in the region.
To better understand and conserve these wolves, this project will apply genomic tools to assess (1) the genomic distinctiveness of wolves in South and Central Asia and (2) how genetically distinct adjacent wolf populations are across South, Central, and West Asia.
Understanding how a species genetically varies across a region can give insight into the historical processes that have shaped current patterns of biodiversity. This area of research is called phylogeography, and we’ll be applying this to wolves in South and Central Asia, which will enhance our understanding of how past environmental changes have contributed to mammalian geographic distribution in the region. This type of project involves collaborators across many countries – please reach out at (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’re interested in collaborating!
Researchers: Lauren Hennelly