Using principles of evolutionary ecology to conserve Canada’s biodiversity.
This research will improve the conservation of Canadian animal species through the use of evolutionary ecology principles.
Using Evolution to Conserve Canada’s Biodiversity
All living organisms are the product of their evolutionary history, and researchers have recently learned that evolutionary change within populations can occur very quickly.
Dr. Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde, Canada Research Chair in Applied Evolutionary Ecology, is using the principles of evolutionary ecology – which involves the study of ecology while taking into account the evolutionary histories of species – to answer a number of issues involving of conservation: Does evolutionary adaptation occur in species that are bred in captivity? What are the consequences for subsequent release? How does urbanization affect how species adapt to their environment? How do invasive species affect the evolution of native populations?
To address these issues, Schulte-Hostedde is examining the effects that domestic mink that have escaped from mink farms have on wild mink populations. He has already detected interbreeding between these two groups, leading to questions about the health of wild mink near mink farms. Schulte-Hostedde is also examining the effects of inbreeding on male fertility in the endangered red wolf and other at risk species.
In addition, Schulte-Hostedde is trying to improve captive breeding programs by integrating them with natural aspects of mating systems. He is also examining how urban chipmunks and other species have adapted to their evolutionarily novel environments.
Understanding how biodiversity can be conserved and maintained has rarely been integrated with an evolutionary perspective. Schulte-Hostedde’s research is allowing for the development of new approaches to these pressing environmental issues.