Creating and Maintaining Biodiversity: Understanding the Dynamics of Reproductive Isolation

EPA Grant Number: U916240
Title: Creating and Maintaining Biodiversity: Understanding the Dynamics of Reproductive Isolation
Investigators: Birge, Leanna M.
Institution: New Mexico State University - Main Campus
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: January 1, 2003 through January 1, 2006
Project Amount: $93,842
RFA: Minority Academic Institutions (MAI) Fellowships for Graduate Environmental Study (2003) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Biology/Life Sciences , Fellowship - Biology


The objectives of this research project are to: (1) investigate a common form of reproductive isolation (conspecific sperm precedence) at the intraspecific level, early in the process of divergence between geographically isolated populations; and (2) identify its ability to be a driving force in the creation of new species versus the maintenance of species boundaries once they are formed.


The decline of biodiversity is occurring at an alarming rate. To counteract this trend, historical and current conservation efforts have focused on understanding forces that drive extinction and on methods to diminish increasing extinction rates; however, biodiversity is the result of two processes: extinction and speciation. Although understanding extinction is of critical importance in preserving biodiversity, it is only half of the story. To manage biodiversity, it is critical that we not only slow extinction rates, but also understand the processes that produce biodiversity. Questions regarding physiological or behavioral characters that may result in reproductive isolation between populations are of particular interest. It is important not only to know what the isolating characters are, but also what forces drive divergence of these isolating characters and how many and what kinds of genes control variation in these characters early in divergence.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, biodiversity, reproductive isolation, conspecific sperm precedence, extinction.

Relevant Websites:

2004 STAR Graduate Fellowship Conference Poster (PDF, 1p., 98.4KB, about PDF)

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2003
  • 2004
  • Final