Dr Valentina Rovelli1, Dr Nadav Pezaro1, Dr Ori Segev2, Dr. Lior Blank3, Mr. Iftah Sinai1, Dr. Juha Merilä4, Dr. Tamar Krugman1, Dr. Arne Nolte5, Dr. Alan Templeton1, Dr. Leon Blaustein1
1University Of Haifa, Haifa, Israel, 2Technion –Israeli Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel, 3Agricoltural Research Organization (ARO) –VolcaniCenter, Rishon LeTsiyon, Israel, 4University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, 5University of Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany
The Near Eastern fire salamander is endangered in Israel and occupies the southernmost habitats of the genus worldwide. We aim at understanding how future climate change could affect single populations of S. infraimmaculata in Israel, to optimize conservation efforts and resources. We incorporate estimates of adaptive potential and local adaptation within a mechanistic species distribution model, using population specific information on exposure, sensitivity and adaptability. We estimate larval exposure to temperature with data collected in the field and data obtained from global open access datasets, and we assess the physiological sensitivity by using the values of thermal optimum and critical thermal maximum experimentally obtained. We estimate the genetic adaptive capacity using allelic richness (microsatellite data). Moreover, mapping RNA sequencing reads against the available transcriptomes for S. infraimmaculata, we look for SNPs in genes that can be important for local adaptation processes, such as oxygen response, growth or development, energy metabolism, etc. The identification of private SNPs in some populations can reveal a signal of local adaptation and shed light on the relationships between genes and specific environmental features. Combining exhaustive information about ecology and genetics for each population will be integral for guiding local conservation management in the most efficient way.
I am a passionate nature lover and my curiosity for life naturally flow into biological studies. Scientifically speaking, I grew up with a strong background in ecology and for my master thesis I studied the population ecology of an endemic frog in Italy. During my PhD I expanded my interests shifting to the field of molecular ecology, carrying on a thesis that encompasses reproductive biology, population genomics and conservation genetics of three Italian amphibian species. Now I am working as a postdoc on the ecological genomics of the Near Eastern Fire Salamander in Israel, focusing my research on local adaptation, Thermal acclimation and climate change effects.