Happy New Year from the WildlifeSNPits team!
All the Pretty Birds
This open paper investigated the phylogenetic and biogeographic relationships between Kingfishers, an order of birds with 114 species. Kingfishers are known for their beautiful bright colors, but how the different species are related to each other was partially unknown. The authors inferred that kingfishers originated between modern day India-Southeast Asia-Indonesian Archipelago and before colonizing Africa, the Philippines, and Australia/Papua New Guinea on separate occasions. From these colonizations, kingfishers went even further and are now found on every continent except Antarctica. Of the 114 species, IUCN lists 6 as endangered, 10 as vulnerable to extinction, 25 as near threatened, and 73 as least concern. The phylogeny and biogeographic information within this paper will inform conservation of these birds.
Side image of a green-backed kingfisher (Actenoides monachus) by Jerome Micheletta via ARKive.
Factors Influencing Estimation of Population Size with RAD-Seq Data
Congratulations to former SNPits blogger Schyler for her new paper on variables effecting the estimation of Ne within RAD-Seq datasets. Estimating population size trends is important for making informed conservation decisions; however, this can be tricky when population declines have occurred recently in time. This paper compared LD- and coalescent-based models under varying conditions of sample size, marker number, and declining or stable population history. The authors found that coalescent-based modeling required fewer loci for accurate inference, although this was offset by needing more loci. This is a full factorial analysis, so dive-in for a more nuanced take on how these factors interact.