Center for Tropical Research, UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability



Region: Africa, South Pacific, North and South America

This research area focuses on the study of endangered or threatened populations and the development of strategies to preserve and protect the diversity of plants and animals worldwide. The Conservation Genetics discipline encompasses the fields of ecology, molecular biology, population genetics, landscape genetics, landscape ecology, mathematical modeling, and evolutionary systematics.

CTR researchers are working on a NASA-funded project to develop a species spatial distribution model that can incorporate remote sensing-detected or -derived environmental variables with corresponding genetic and phenotypic variables at various spatial and temporal scales. This integrated model will allow for the elucidation of the patterns and processes that govern diversification and speciation in a spatial and/or geographical context and the identification of important habitat for conservation. 

Other projects include the study of the influence of human-caused habitat fragmentation on the structuring of populations of the threatened Rockfowl bird (Picathartes sp.) of Africa, and the use of plant population genetics to assess the effect of seed disperser loss on gene flow of Antrocaryon klaineanum(ANACARDIACEAE), a commercially important tree species that is dispersed almost exclusively by heavily hunted mammals.

CTR and the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology jointly manage the UCLA Conservation Genetics Resource Center which collects genetic samples of plants, mammals, and birds and develops new molecular methods to enhance our analytical capabilities. 

Current Projects

Preserving an Enigma: The Impact of Habitat Fragmentation on Rockfowl (Picathartes) in Central Africa (click here to download PDF)

Related Publications

2013 Duraes R., Carrasco L., Smith T.B., Karubian J. Effects of forest disturbance and habitat loss on avian communities in a Neotropical biodiversity hotspot. Biological Conservation, 166:203-211. PDF
2013 Fuller, T.L., Thomassen H.A., Peralvo M., Buermann W., Mila B., Kieswetter C. M., Jarrin V.P., Cameron Devitt S.E., Mason E., Schweizer R.M., Schlinegger J., Chan J., Wang O., Schneider C.J., Pollinger P.J., Saatchi S., Graham C.H., Wayne R.K., Smith T.B. Intraspecific morphological and genetic variation of common species predicts ranges of threatened ones. Proceeds of the Royal Society Biological Sciences, 280, 20130423 PDF
2013 Mendoza E, Fuller T, Thomassen HA, Buermann W, Ramírez-Mejía D, Smith TB. An assessment of the effectiveness of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor for protecting potential Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii Gill, 1865) habitat in Southern Mexico. Integrative Zoology 8:35-47. PDF
2012 Karubian J., Duraes R., Storey J.L., Smith T.B. Mating behavior drives seed dispersal by the Long-wattled Umbrellabird Cephalopterus penduliger. Biotropica 44(5): 689-698. PDF
2012 Laurance, W. F., …T. B. Smith et al. Averting biodiversity collapse in tropical protected areas. Nature. doi:10.1038/nature11318. PDF
2012 Oliveras de Ita A., Oyama K., Smith T.B., Wayne R.K., Mila B. Genetic evidence for recent range fragmentation and severely restricted dispersal in the critically endangered Sierra Madre Sparrow, Xenospiza baileyi. Conservation Genetics 13: 283-291. PDF
2011 Thomassen, H. A., T. Fuller, W. Buermann, B. Milá, C. M. Kieswetter, P. Jarrín-V., S. E. Cameron, E. Mason, R. Schweizer, J. Schlunegger, J. Chan, O. Wang, M. Peralvo, C. J. Schneider, C. H. Graham, J. P. Pollinger, S. Saatchi, R. K. Wayne, and T. B. Smith. Mapping evolutionary process: a multi-taxa approach to conservation prioritization. Evolutionary Applications 4: 397-413. PDF
2011 Laurance W. F., D. C. Useche, L. P. Shoo, S. K. Herzog, M. Kessler, F. Escobar, G. Brehm, J. C. Axmacher, I. C. Chen, L. A. Gámez, P. Hietz, K. Fiedler, T. Pyrcz, J. Wolf, C. L. Merkord, C. Cardelus, A. R. Marshall, C. Ah-Peng, G. H. Aplet, M. del Coro Arizmendi, W. J. Baker, J. Barone, C. A. Brühl, R.W. Bussmann, D. Cicuzza, G. Eilu, M. E. Favila, P. Hietz, A. Hemp, C. Hemp, J. Homeier, R. B. Huey, J. Hurtado, J. Jankowski, G. Kattán, J. Kluge, T. Krömer, D. Lees, M. Lehnert, J. T. Longino, J. Lovett, P. H. Martin, B. D. Patterson, R. G. Pearson, K. S.-H. Peh, B. Richardson, M. Richardson, M. Samways, F. Senbeta, T. B. Smith, T. Utteridge, J. E. Watkins, R. Wilson, S. E. Williams, and C. D. Thomas. Global warming, elevational ranges and the vulnerability of tropical biota. Biological Conservation 144: 548-557. PDF
2010 Thomassen, H. A., K. C. Jones, J. P. Pollinger, and T. B. Smith. Characterization of novel microsatellite loci for Myzomela cardinalis and M. rubrata honeyeaters, and cross-amplification in other species. Conservation Genetics Resources 2: 205-208. PDF
2010 Freedman, A. H., Buermann, W, Mitchard, E. T. A., DeFries, R. S., and T. B. Smith. Human impacts flatten rainforest savanna gradient and reduce adaptive diversity in a rainforest bird. PLoS ONE 5: e13088. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013088. PDF
2010 Thomassen, H. A., W. Buermann, B. Milá, C. H. Graham, S. E. Cameron, C.  J. Schneider, J. P. Pollinger, S. Saatchi, R. K. Wayne, and T. B.  Smith. Modeling environmentally associated morphological and genetic variation in a rainforest bird, and its application to conservation prioritization. Evolutionary Applications 3:  1-16. PDF
2009 Freedman, A. H., W. Buermann, M. LeBreton, L. Chirio, and T. B. Smith. Modeling the effects of anthropogenic habitat change on savanna snake invasions into African rainforest. Conservation Biology 23: 81-92. PDF
2009 Smith, T. B. [REVIEW]. Equating forest conservation with hornbill conservation. Ecology and Conservation of Asian Hornbills: Farmers of the Forest. By Kinnaird, M. F, and T. G. O’Brien. Conservation Biology 23: 782-783. PDF
2008 Smith, T. B., and G. Grether. The importance of conserving evolutionary process. Pages 85-98. In S. P. Carroll and C. Fox (Eds.). Conservation Biology: Evolution in Action. Oxford University Press, Oxford. PDF
2007 Randall, D. A., J. P. Pollinger, R. K. Wayne, L. A. Tallents, P. J. Johnson, and D. W. Macdonald. Inbreeding is reduced by female-biased dispersal and mating behavior in Ethiopian wolves. Behavioral Ecology 18(3): 579-589. PDF
2007 Chaves, J. A., J. Pollinger, T. B. Smith, and G. Lebuhn. The role of geography and ecology in shaping the phylogeography of the speckled hummingbird (Adelomyia melanogenys) in Ecuador. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 43: 795-807. PDF
2006 Kohn, M. H., W. J. Murphy, E. A. Ostrander, and R. K. Wayne. Genomics and conservation genetics. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 21(11): 629-637. PDF
2006 Riley, S. P. D., J. P. Pollinger, R. M. Sauvajot, E. C. York, C. Bromley, T. K. Fuller, and R. K. Wayne. A southern California freeway is a physical and social barrier to gene flow in carnivores. Molecular Ecology 15(7): 1733-1741. PDF
2006 Aguilar, A., S.V. Edwards, T.B. Smith, and R.K. Wayne. Patterns of variation in MHC class II B loci of the little greenbul (Andropadus virens) with comments on MHC evolution in birds. Journal of Heredity 97: 133-142. PDF
2005 Delaney, K. S., and R. K. Wayne. Adaptive units for conservation: Population distinction and historic extinctions in the Island Scrub-Jay. Conservation Biology 19(2): 523-533. PDF
2005 Leonard, J. A., C. Vila, and R. K. Wayne. Legacy lost: genetic variability and population size of extirpated US grey wolves (Canis lupus). Molecular Ecology 14(1): 9-17. PDF
2005 Aguilar, A., T. B. Smith, and R. K. Wayne. A comparision of variation between a MHC pseudogene and microsatellite loci of the little greenbul (Androparus virens). BMC Evolutionary Biology 5: 47. PDF
2005 Mila, B.and C. Bardeleben. Isolation of polymorphic tetranucleotide microsatellite markers for the wedge-billed woodcreeper Glyphorynchus spirurus. Molecular Ecology Notes 5, 844-845. PDF
2005 Bardeleben, C. and M. M. Gray. Isolation of polymorphic tetranucleotide microsatellite markers for the streak-necked flycatcher Mionectes striaticollis. Molecular Ecology Notes 5, 755-756. PDF
2005 Bardeleben, C. and M. M. Gray. Isolation of polymorphic tetranucleotide microsatellite markers for the masked flowerpiercer Diglossa cyanea. Molecular Ecology Notes 5, 849-850. PDF
2004 Austerlitz, F., C.W. Dick, C. Dutech, E. K. Klein, S. Oddou-Muratorio, P. E. Smouse, and V. L. Sork. Using genetic markers to estimate the pollen dispersal curve. Molecular Ecology 13(4): 937-954. PDF
2004 Morin, P. A., G. Luikart, and R. K. Wayne. SNPs in ecology, evolution and conservation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 19(4): 208-216. PDF
2003 Roemer, G. W., and R. K. Wayne. Conservatoin in conflict: The tale of two endangered species. Conservation Biology 17(5): 1251-1260. PDF
2002 Sork, V.L., F.W. Davis, P.E. Smouse, V.J. Aspit, R.J. Dyer, J.F. Fernandez, and B. Kuhn. Pollen movement in declining populations of California Vallery oak, Quercus lobata: where have all the fathers gone? Molecular Ecology 11(9): 1657-1668. PDF
2001 Wayne, R.K. and D. W. Brown. Hybridization and Conservation of Carnivores In: Carnivore Conservation. Gittleman, J., MacDonald, D.W., Funk, S., and Wayne, R.K. (Eds.). Cambridge University Press.
2001 Roemer, G. W., Smith, A. Deborah, Garcelon, David K.; Wayne, Robert K. The behavioural ecology of the island fox (Urocyon littoralis). Journal of Zoology (London) 255: 1-14. PDF
2001 Semple, K.E., R. K. Wayne, and R. M. Gibson. Microsatellite analysis of female mating behaviour in lek-breeding sage grouse. Molecular Ecology 10: 2043-2048. PDF
2001 Torres, E., D. C. Lees, R. I. Vane-Wright, C. Kremen, J. A. Leonard, and R. K. Wayne. Examining monophyly in a large radiation of Madagascan butterflies (Lepidoptera: Satyrinae: Mycalesina) based on mitochondrial DNA data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 20: 460-473. PDF
2001 Vila, C., J. A. Leonard, A. Gotherstrom, S. Marklund, K. Sandberg, K. Liden, R. K. Wayne, and H. Ellegren. Widespread origins of domestic horse lineages. Science 291: 474-477. PDF
2001 Girman, D. J., C. Vila, E. Geffen, S. Creel, M. G. L. Mills, J. W. McNutt, J. Ginsberg, P. W. Kat, K. H. Mamiya, and R. K. Wayne. Patterns of population subdivision, gene flow and genetic variability in the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus). Molecular Ecology 10: 1703-1723. PDF
2001 Maldonado, J. E. V., Carles, and R. K. Wayne. Tripartite genetic subdivisions in the ornate shrew (Sorex ornatus). Molecular Ecology 10: 127-147. PDF
2000 Leonard, J. A., R. K. Wayne, and A. Cooper. Population genetics of ice age brown bears. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 97: 1651-1654. PDF
2000 Crandall, Keith A. Bininda-Emonds, Olaf R. P. Mace, Georgina M. Wayne, Robert K. Considering evolutionary processes in conservation biology. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 15: 290-295. PDF
2000 Kohn, Michael H. Pelz, Hans-Joachim, Wayne, Robert K. Natural selection mapping of the warfarin-resistance gene. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 97: 7911-7915. PDF

Center for Tropical Research | UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
La Kretz Hall, Suite 300 | 619 Charles E. Young Dr. East | Los Angeles, CA 90095-1496

The Center for Tropical Research, located on the third floor of La Kretz Hall, is part of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. For general inquiries, contact Christa Gomez, CTR Office Manager, at 310-206-6234, or by email at Visitors are always welcome.

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