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National Science Foundation (USA) 2011

Biotic Surveys of Central Saharan Oases

Central Sahara Oases


Titre : Biotic Surveys of Central Saharan Oases

Organismes NSF : Division Of Environmental Biology (DEB)

Durée : August 31, 2011 — October 31, 2015

This collaborative research project aims to survey comprehensively the fauna of isolated desert oases in Libya and Egypt. Surveys will focus on vertebrate and parasite diversity, with focal research on amphibians, fishes, reptiles, mollusks, and schistosome and hematozoan parasites. Using new GIS data and geo-referenced historical records, the geographical relationship between the Mediterranean and sub-Saharan faunas will be mapped. With a new collection of specimens that includes tissue samples, long-standing biogeographic hypotheses will be tested via molecular phylogenetic methods. By revisiting historical localities, important new data will be provided on changes in faunal composition driven by recent aridification. Analyses of new genetic, morphological, and ecological data will also provide a window into the evolutionary dynamics of refugial populations, including adaptation to extreme environments. Specimens, tissues, and data will be deposited in publicly accessible U.S. museum collections and databases and will serve as an important resource for future work on North African biodiversity. New distributional data on parasites, including schistosome worms, and on venomous snakes will have a direct effect on managing human health. These isolated oases are threatened by climate change, including a water table that is diminishing because of regional changes in water utilization ; the investigators’ surveys will draw attention to the fragility of these irreplaceable ecosystems. Through collaboration with foreign and U.S. museums, important historical specimen collections from Libya and Egypt will be updated and curated. This project includes diverse specialties and institutions, and integrates North African researchers and students in fieldwork and the resulting research. Undergraduate and graduate students will be included in both field surveys and subsequent research. This project will provide the resources for conducting taxonomic revisions, pursuing broad-scale phylogeographic studies, and applying molecular genetic tools to long-standing problems in African biogeography. This project is co-funded by the National Science Foundation’s Office of International Science and Engineering.

Partenaire (s) : David Blackburn david.c.blackburn (Principal Investigator)

Sponsor  : California Academy of Sciences 55 Music Concourse Drive San Francisco, CA 94118-4503 (415)379-5146

Financement : $620,553.00

Présentation (National Science Foundation)

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