An Anthropocene map of genetic diversity – University of Copenhagen

29 September 2016

An Anthropocene map of genetic diversity

Published in Science by Miraldo, A., Li, S., Borregaard, M. K., Flórez-Rodríguez, F., Rizvanovic, M., Wang, Z., Rahbek, C., Marske, K. A., Nogués-Bravo, D. and co-author.

The Anthropocene is witnessing a loss of biodiversity, with well-documented declines in the diversity of ecosystems and species. For intraspecific genetic diversity, however, we lack even basic knowledge of its global distribution. We georeferenced 92,801 mitochondrial sequences for >4500 species of terrestrial mammals and amphibians and found that genetic diversity is 27% higher in the tropics than in nontropical regions. Overall, habitats that are more affected by humans hold less genetic diversity than wilder regions, although results for mammals are sensitive to the choice of a genetic locus. Our study associates geographic coordinates with publicly available genetic sequences at a massive scale, yielding an opportunity to investigate both the drivers of this component of biodiversity and the genetic consequences of the anthropogenic modification of nature.