Some spatial problems in population genetics: using spatial statistics to understand processes underlying spatial patterns in genetic diversity

Mary Woodcock Kroble
Sunday 10 November 2013
Date: 12 March 2014
Time: 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Speaker: Oscar Gaggiotti (School of Biology, MASTS )


Identifying the evolutionary and ecological processes that determine the spatial structuring of genetic diversity is one of the main objectives of population genetics. However, disentangling the effects of different ecological and genetic processes is very difficult and much effort is being focused on the development of spatially explicit statistical methods that can reliable infer the effects of purely demographic processes (colonisation, migration, population growth or decline) and genetic processes involving local adaptation. In this talk I will give an overview of some of my previous work involving the estimation of migration rates and composition of colonising groups as well as some more recent work focused on identifying genomic regions involved in adaptation to local environmental conditions. Much of this work uses Hierarchical Bayesian methods and MCMC approaches that are computationally intensive and face important challenges due to the large amounts of data being produced by new DNA sequencing technologies. Rather than presenting a specific example, my aim is to provide an overview of the challenges that population geneticists face when developing statistical methods. Overcoming these challenges requires the collaboration with “real statisticians”.

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