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  1. Sork, Victoria (Ed.)
    Abstract When species are continuously distributed across environmental gradients, the relative strength of selection and gene flow shape spatial patterns of genetic variation, potentially leading to variable levels of differentiation across loci. Determining whether adaptive genetic variation tends to be structured differently than neutral variation along environmental gradients is an open and important question in evolutionary genetics. We performed exome-wide population genomic analysis on deer mice sampled along an elevational gradient of nearly 4000 m of vertical relief. Using a combination of selection scans, genotype-environment associations, and geographic cline analyses, we found that a large proportion of the exome hasmore »experienced a history of altitude-related selection. Elevational clines for nearly 30% of these putatively adaptive loci were shifted significantly up- or down-slope of clines for loci that did not bear similar signatures of selection. Many of these selection targets can be plausibly linked to known phenotypic differences between highland and lowland deer mice, although the vast majority of these candidates have not been reported in other studies of highland taxa. Together, these results suggest new hypotheses about the genetic basis of physiological adaptation to high-altitude, and the spatial distribution of adaptive genetic variation along environmental gradients.« less
  2. Koepfli, Klaus-Peter (Ed.)
    Abstract A current challenge in the fields of evolutionary, ecological, and conservation genomics is balancing production of large-scale datasets with additional training often required to handle such datasets. Thus, there is an increasing need for conservation geneticists to continually learn and train to stay up-to-date through avenues such as symposia, meetings, and workshops. The ConGen meeting is a near-annual workshop that strives to guide participants in understanding population genetics principles, study design, data processing, analysis, interpretation, and applications to real-world conservation issues. Each year of ConGen gathers a diverse set of instructors, students, and resulting lectures, hands-on sessions, and discussions.more »Here, we summarize key lessons learned from the 2019 meeting and more recent updates to the field with a focus on big data in conservation genomics. First, we highlight classical and contemporary issues in study design that are especially relevant to working with big datasets, including the intricacies of data filtering. We next emphasize the importance of building analytical skills and simulating data, and how these skills have applications within and outside of conservation genetics careers. We also highlight recent technological advances and novel applications to conservation of wild populations. Finally, we provide data and recommendations to support ongoing efforts by ConGen organizers and instructors—and beyond—to increase participation of underrepresented minorities in conservation and eco-evolutionary sciences. The future success of conservation genetics requires both continual training in handling big data and a diverse group of people and approaches to tackle key issues, including the global biodiversity-loss crisis.« less
  3. Ruvinsky, Ilya (Ed.)
    Abstract Aerobic performance is tied to fitness as it influences an animal’s ability to find food, escape predators, or survive extreme conditions. At high altitude, where low O2 availability and persistent cold prevail, maximum metabolic heat production (thermogenesis) is an aerobic performance trait that is closely linked to survival. Understanding how thermogenesis evolves to enhance survival at high altitude will yield insight into the links between physiology, performance, and fitness. Recent work in deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) has shown that adult mice native to high altitude have higher thermogenic capacities under hypoxia compared with lowland conspecifics, but that developing high-altitudemore »pups delay the onset of thermogenesis. This finding suggests that natural selection on thermogenic capacity varies across life stages. To determine the mechanistic cause of this ontogenetic delay, we analyzed the transcriptomes of thermoeffector organs—brown adipose tissue and skeletal muscle—in developing deer mice native to low and high altitude. We demonstrate that the developmental delay in thermogenesis is associated with adaptive shifts in the expression of genes involved in nervous system development, fuel/O2 supply, and oxidative metabolism pathways. Our results demonstrate that selection has modified the developmental trajectory of the thermoregulatory system at high altitude and has done so by acting on the regulatory systems that control the maturation of thermoeffector tissues. We suggest that the cold and hypoxic conditions of high altitude force a resource allocation tradeoff, whereby limited energy is allocated to developmental processes such as growth, versus active thermogenesis, during early development.« less