Professor Anderson, a leader in using GIS (geographic information systems) analysis to model species distributions (ranges), says his goal is to use the genus Heteromys as an example of how to integrate GIS, evolutionary biology and climate studies. With an aim toward conservation, he hopes to compare areas with suitable habitat for the species with the location of protected areas.
He and his collaborators at Brigham Young University and the Universidad Simn Bolvar are also currently performing genetic research to study evolutionary relationships in the genus. To complement this, Professor Anderson and his students are building GIS models of the species' climatic requirements and applying them to reconstructions of past climates.
During the peak of the last Ice Age, when glaciers were extensive and temperatures were generally colder even in the tropics, distributions of this montane species were probably more contiguous, he explained. "We can take the same model of the species' requirements and apply it to projections of future climate to predict what habitat will remain for the species as the climate gets warmer."
He says it is likely that suitable habitats for this species will be reduced as a consequence of climate change. A GIS exercise studying the distribution of H. catopterius has been integrated into the laboratory of CCNY's undergraduate biology course, "Ecology and Evolution."
|Contact: Ellis Simon|
City College of New York