The Pernambuco Centre of Endemism (PCE) is the Brazilian region most affected by deforestation and fragmentation. Among the endemic bird taxa of this area, many of them are threatened and others have recently gone extinct. Biogeographical relationships among PCE, Southern Atlantic Forest and Amazonia are still poorly understood and are hardly target of biogeographic and phylogeographic studies. Understanding the evolutionary mechanisms that account for the elevated biotic diversity is especially relevant in this region where its enlightenment is the key to understanding the evolution of the Amazonian and Atlantic biota. Carnival & Moritz (2008) biogeographical model proposes that the PCE was a stable area during Pleistocene and may have acted as a refuge during the Last Glacial Maximum. Other studies suggest that the PCE is most closely related to Amazonia than to Southern Atlantic Forest and that there might be a correlation between the altitude at which a species occurs and its origin. The advent of massively parallel sequencing (MPS) of Ultraconserved Elements (UCEs) quickly transformed comparative genetic studies, we can acquire thousands of unlinked loci data, because they are polymorphic at shallow evolutionary timescales, the UCEs have become an effective genetic marker for phylogeographic studies. Here in this project, we aim to conduct a comparative phylogenomic study of 10 bird taxa endemic to PCE, in order to clarify this region the biogeographic history. UCEs sequencing data will be used to reconstruct the phylogeographic relationships among the populations and to estimate population genetics parameters. By estimating the divergence time between the populations of PCE, Amazonia and Southern Atlantic Forest we will be able to identify the ancestral populations what were the colonization events of the PCE areas, and thus we can test the paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic models able to clarify the diversification scenarios found.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: