Smith Fellows
Smith Fellow


Anthropogenic changes exert pressure on ecosystems and biodiversity. We need integrative frameworks to understand the biodiversity distribution and its responses to future environment. Currently, the species - area relationship (SAR) provides a general rule for species richness patterns and the joint - species distribution model (JSDM) analyzes further into the species turnover in community assembly processes. Both approaches have been efficient in estimating extinctions or species range contractions for conservation policy inputs. However, these macroecology models do not consider evolutionary processes happening within species, therefore failing to account for species’ rapid adaptation or mal-adaptation to disturbances. Here, leveraging an expanding geo-referenced whole genome variation dataset of 50 species with 10,126 individuals in 19 species already collected, I propose to build scalable and predictive eco-evolutionary models for genetic diversity distribution and assembly. To understand genetic richness patterns, I will evaluate the robustness for the newly discovered mutation-area relationship, estimate its variation in adaptive, neutral and deleterious mutations; and predict future genetic richness based on the estimated habitat conversions. To estimate genetic turnover patterns, I will establish the theoretical framework of a genomics-informed JSDM using simulated communities with realistic geographical distribution and genomic makeup. The genetics JSDM will be fitted to the empirical genomic dataset to elucidate the role of genetics in community assembly processes. These models will be at the cutting-edge of conservation science and have profound practical implications in the US, by providing the first resource on biodiversity distribution at the eco-evolutionary level, suggesting applicable and standardizable metrics to meet the newly established goals of 90% genetic diversity conservation by the Convention of Biological Diversity.