Investigating the Dimensions of biodiversity in the mussel holobiont
Does animal community diversity scale with intraspecific genetic diversity? Does greater genetic diversity within host populations result in higher diversity of their associated microbiota? How does genetic diversity and connectivity of animal host species within and between populations structure host-microbiome assembly and contribute to functional diversity at local and regional scales?
A first step in understanding the structure and function of communities is to quantify genetic diversity for co-distributed interacting species. Most species are not genetically homogeneous, but are structured into a mosaic of geographically, ecologically, and historically subdivided populations. Past and present events can alter the demography of species (population size, dispersal) in ways that leave signatures on levels of genetic variation within and between populations. We can use these signatures to test whether diversity and structure at the population and community levels are governed by parallel underlying environmental, ecological, and evolutionary processes. We will be using modern high throughput DNA sequencing methods to generate large sets of genetic markers for comparative population genomics across southeastern freshwater mussel species.