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Tropical Molecular Ecology

Short title: Tropical Molecular Ecology

Chairs: Ute Radespiel, Pablo Orozco-terWengel

Contact: ute.radespiel@tiho-hannover.de

Tropical environments are under threat for a variety of reasons including human population expansion and encroachment, habitat loss and fragmentation, and climate change. At the same time, tropical biodiversity often remains poorly understood or completely undescribed, so that many species may go extinct before being discovered. Species living in tropical environments are highly challenged, since they are generally adapted to relatively stable environmental conditions with narrow ecological niches but need to modify life history strategies and/or change distribution ranges in response to environmental changes. However, increasing landscape discontinuities in addition to natural barriers to gene flow (e.g., rivers, mountains) constrain movements, population dynamics and consequently the biogeographic plasticity of most species. Modern genetic and genomic techniques are excellent tools to investigate the evolutionary processes responsible for current patterns of biodiversity and the impacts of anthropogenic challenges (e.g., demographic changes, hybridization, extinction, inbreeding). This is of utmost importance for estimating the viability of populations and entire species and implementing effective conservation measures in the future. We aim to bring together a collection of contributions that address these and related questions in tropical biota from around the world. This session will provide the opportunity to present new data, critically review existing evidence and discuss important avenues for future research in tropical molecular ecology.

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