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ALPIMED: Integrative evolutionary, demographic, and extinction risk assessment of alpine biotas from Mediterranean sky island archipelagos with extreme vulnerability to climate change
Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are warming the world at a pace unprecedented in at least the last 2000 years, which has negatively impacted natural ecosystems and human societies in many different ways. Although the consequences of climate change have been documented in nearly all organism groups and across virtually every ecosystem on Earth, alpine environments are expected to be particularly vulnerable to its negative impacts. Mediterranean sky island archipelagos (MSIA) represent the warm distributional margin for many cold-adapted species more widely distributed at higher latitudes and harbor extraordinarily high levels of local microendemism. However, despite the high vulnerability to climate warming and great conservation value of MSIA, the geological, evolutionary, and ecological processes that have shaped their rich biodiversity remain poorly-known, the taxonomic status of their putatively endemic species is often controversial, and the fate of their populations under future climate change scenarios has never been forecasted using mechanistic models (i.e., process-based) incorporating species-specific demographic parameters. Documenting, anticipating and mitigating the impacts of climate change in alpine biotas ideally requires (i) detailed taxonomic and evolutionary assessments, (ii) evaluating the genetic diversity status of contemporary populations, (iii) inferring the processes that have shaped their past demographic dynamics, (iv) monitoring recent distributional shifts and, ultimately, (v) integrating this information to forecast the fate of species and populations across the landscape.
The main goal of ALPIMED is to shed light on the processes that have contributed to generate the high levels of endemism in alpine biotas currently confined to MSIA and understand the natural and anthropogenic (i.e., climate warming) processes behind the extraordinary fragmentation and high risk of extinction of their contemporary populations. To this end, ALPIMED will focus on three radiations of alpine grasshoppers from the Iberian, Italian and Balkan peninsulas that currently form extremely isolated populations and, in some cases, have already experienced considerable distributional shifts towards higher elevations. Specifically, ALPIMED aims to: 1) integrate genomic data and phenotypic information to evaluate the taxonomic status and evolutionary distinctiveness and cohesiveness of the different taxa within each species radiation (Objective 1); 2) infer the processes that have contributed to the high levels of local microendemism among alpine biotas from MSIA (Objective 2); and 3) document recent distributional shifts, determine the factors that have shaped the demographic history of each species, evaluate alternative spatiotemporally-explicit demographic and coalescent models, and use the inferred parameters to forecast the fate of the species and populations under future scenarios of global warming and identify those that will be more vulnerable/resilient to climate change (Objective 3). These three objectives guide the hierarchical framework adopted in this proposal to infer the processes that have generated the extraordinarily rich biodiversity of MSIA, anticipate the risks of genetic erosion, local extirpation and species extinction linked to global warming and, ultimately, propose evidence-based strategies to mitigate its negative impacts.
SCHEMATIC OF ALPIMED
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POPULAR SCIENCE PUBLICATIONS
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Funded by the Spanish Ministry for Science and Innovation - Next Generation EU
Reference: TED2021-129328B-I00 (113,850 €)
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