Caribbean Biodiversity Projects

Patterns of Gene Flow in the Bahamas

CB_geneflow.jpgWe have a currently funded project that is just getting off the ground to look at patterns of gene flow in the 6 species of bats that occur in the Bahamas. This project seeks to explore the extent to which narrow oceanic straits present barriers to gene flow. We are using a multi-locus data set to estimate changes in effective population size over time and patterns of gene flow. Coupled with the niche modeling data shown below, we can generate testable models of bat evolutionary history in the Bahamas using coalescent simulations. These simulations will allow us to determine which evolutionary models are most likely to produce the kinds of molecular data we observe in modern bats. This also allows us to predict how future climate change might affect Bahamian bat populations.

CB_nichemod.jpgCaribbean Niche Modeling

Ecological niche models are routinely used to not only generate predicted distributions for species at the present time, but they are also used to generate past species distributions (e.g., those at the last glacial maximum). There has been a disturbing absence of testing to determine the degree to which these models accurately predict the past distribution of species. We are using the bat species of the Bahamas as a test case whereby we are generating predictive models of species distribution using various methods and testing their accuracy based on the fossil record of bats from the Caribbean. This study involves considerable field collection, computational effort (niche modeling), and molecular data analysis (to define taxonomic boundaries for niche modeling).