A new biodiversity metric called phylogeographic endemism has been developed by scientists to understand the influence of recurring climatic shifts on current patterns of genetic diversity.
A team of researchers from the City College of New York led by biologist Dr. Ana Carnaval analyzed the effects of current and past climatic variation on the genetic diversity of 25 vertebrates in the highly diverse yet much threatened Brazilian Atlantic rainforest.
Carnaval said that they discovered that the climatic regimes of the northern and southern portions of the Atlantic forest were strikingly different. While past climate dynamics predicted phylogeographic endemism in the northern forests, contemporary climatic heterogeneity explained endemism in the south.
She added that studying these forest domains in isolation helped them identify the areas holding most unique and small-ranged genetic variation, guiding research and conservation.
The study is published in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.