Janet Buckner Awarded Fulbright Fellowship

Janet Buckner, a graduate student in UCLA Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, has been awarded a Fulbright fellowship for her research on primate phylogenetics in the Brazilian Amazon, for May through November 2015.  Janet’s Ph.D. is co-advised by Michael Alfaro (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Institute for Society and Genetics), David Jacobs (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology), and Jessica Lynch Alfaro (Institute for Society and Genetics, Anthropology). Congratulations, Janet!


Below Janet Buckner describes her Fulbright-funded research project:As part of my Fulbright fellowship, I will investigate the phylogenetics and biogeography of Amazonian marmosets (Cebuella, Mico, Callibella) in an effort to understand the diversification of clades in the Amazon basin.  These primates are understudied in all aspects of their biology. Most species occur in the remotest areas of the Amazon basin and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has deemed more than half the listed species as data deficient or vulnerable.  This group is underrepresented in studies that aim to understand phylogenetic relationships and biogeography of the Neotropical primates, in part because several of the Mico and Callibella species are recently discovered and genetic material has not become widely available.  To address this gap, my collaborators and I will use a recent genomic technique based on ultra-conserved elements to establish the phylogenetic relationships among extant Amazonian marmosets.  Additionally, we will use model testing to reconstruct the biogeographic history of Amazonian marmosets as a group, and study phylogeography in select species that are particularly widespread.

Many Mico species and Callibella, as endemics, are particularly vulnerable to the threat of extinction posed by disturbance to their restricted ranges.  Continued climate change related to anthropogenic activities may exacerbate this threat.  Elucidating how such changes continue to impact these species may benefit from an understanding of how lineages have evolved in a dynamic environment through deep time.  In the absence of densely sampled population genetic studies, biogeographic and diverisfication studies represent an alternative that could prove useful in conservation planning through modeling the impact of environmental change on species.

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