Jacob González-Solís, Julio Rozas Liras and Joan Ferrer Obiol, University of Barcelona
The Balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus) is a marine bird endemic to the Balearic Islands and the most endangered in Europe, at a critical risk of extinction. The genome of the Balearic shearwater will be sequenced on this project, and a study will be conducted to report on the conservation actions.
A recent study predicts that the Balearic shearwater will be extinct in only six decades. To improve conservation policies, population genetics is a key tool for resolving taxonomic and demographic uncertainties and for enabling the assessment of such threats as hybridization with very closely-related species.
Past genetic studies on this species contain incongruencies that hinder decision-making. At present, the analysis of entire genomes allows some of these factors to be resolved, such as identifying genomic regions related to the factors that influence the susceptibility of species to environmental disturbances.
On this project, we propose a genomic study applied to the conservation of the Balearic shearwater with three complementary objectives: to estimate population parameters that would allow the demographic evolution of the species to be reconstructed and predicted; to estimate the introgressive hybridization with the Mediterranean shearwater; and to determine which genomic regions are related to migratory behavior, in order to study the species’ response to environmental change.
To do so, the genome of the Balearic shearwater will be sequenced and annotated, and genomes will be obtained from ten specimens per species of the Mediterranean shearwater and the Manx shearwater.