Tracing the evolutionary history of wildlife could improve global habitat conservation, a major Cardiff University study has found.

Researchers in the School of Biosciences analysed the African bushbuck, a common species which lives in most sub-Saharan habitat types to test whether DNA similarity between populations living in different habitats can reveal the similarity of those ecoregions now and in the past.

The study, one of the first of its kind, identified 28 key regions for bushbucks. By understanding the genetic similarity of populations inhabiting different habitats researchers found they can potentially trace which ecoregions are most similar and establish which are the most unique in evolutionary history. Professor Mike Bruford, School of Biosciences, co-author of the study, said: "The conservation of habitat or ecoregion biodiversity is one of our greatest challenges. This new approach will allow conservationists in Africa to focus their efforts on the most biodiverse and more unique habitats which harbour the most genetically distinct populations." The researchers suggest the study provides a framework for the incorporation of genetic and biogeographic information into a more widely applicable model for pan-African conservation and, potentially, for the conservation of other global regions. A picture to accompany the story is available from the Public Relations Office: 029 20874499. The paper "Molecular Biogeography: Towards an Integrated Framework for Conserving Pan-African Biodiversity" is published on Wednesday May 23 in the online, peer-reviewed, open-access journal PLoS ONE.

Cardiff School of Biosciences

The Cardiff School of Biosciences addresses the major biological questions which face health and life scientists. The major research areas of the School are: biodiversity and ecology, connective tissue biology, environmental biochemistry and microbiology, mammalian genetics, molecular enzymology and entomology, and neuroscience cell biology. The School also houses the Common Cold Centre, the world's only centre dedicated to researching and testing new medicines for treatment of the symptoms of flu and the common cold.

Cardiff University

Cardiff University Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain's leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University's breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of Britain's leading research universities.

wwwrdiff.ac

Moodley Y, Bruford MW (2007)
Molecular Biogeography: Towards an Integrated Framework for Conserving Pan-African Biodiversity
PLoS ONE 2(5): e454. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000454
www.plosone/doi/pone.0000454

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