Abstract Detail

Population Genetics/Genomics

Williams, Tanisha [1], Heim, Jeffrey [1], McGuire, Chloe [2], Wrobleski, Amy [2], Bliege Bird, Rebecca [2], Martine, Chris [1].

Indigenous Knowledge Systems & Genomics: Insights from a collaboration aiming to understand how the Martu’s foraging practices aid in the distribution and diversity of a staple food source across the Western Australian desert.

About one third of the vast island continent of Australia is classified as desert. These regions, though rainfall is low and can be unpredictable, are rich in flora and fauna. Recent research within the Western Desert has shown how human and desert ecosystems have coevolved for almost 5,000 years. This relationship was severely impacted by the forceful removal of Aboriginal peoples from their homelands from the turn of the 20th century to the 1970s. During this time period, the desert ecosystems in Australia went through drastic changes, e.g., frequency and intensity of fires, which led to decreases in native taxa. As Aboriginal peoples are returning home to traditional and mixed-based economy lifestyles, their practices of hunting, burning, and foraging are aiding in the increase of native taxa and facilitating ecosystem recovery. Several species in the genus Solanum L. play a pivotal role as subsistence resources and have cultural significance to Indigenous communities in Australia. The Martu, Indigenous foragers of the Western Desert, use some Solanum species as a food staple. S. diversiflorum F. Muell., locally known as wamula, has an edible, tasty fruit eaten when moving throughout the landscape. Seeds are bitter and discarded along movement corridors or in processing sites along the corridors. Population samples from two types of sites were collected: specimens from movement corridors within Martu title lands and specimens from populations that are assumed to be wild outside of the Martu territory. Population genomics methods are being used to assess and compare genetic diversity and population structure of disturbed vs. wild populations. In collaboration with the Martu, assessments are also being made to understand how the Martu have shaped S. diversiflorum/wamula’s distribution, diversity patterns, and dispersal. We are elucidating the role humans, being one of the best long distance dispersal agents, have on gene flow and plant distributions across Australia’s Western desert.

1 - Bucknell University, Biology, 1 Dent Drive, Lewisburg, PA, 17837
2 - Pennsylvania State University, Anthropology, 410 Carpenter Building, Curtain Rd, University Park, PA, 16802

population genetics
Traditional Ecological Knowledge.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: PGG1006
Abstract ID:422
Candidate for Awards:Margaret Menzel Award

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