Alice Petzold

I’m a postodoctoral researcher studying the evolution of animal biodiversity through the analysis of morphological and genetic data of present and past animal populations. I completed my doctoral studies in Molecular Systematics at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris, France, in 2019 under the supervision of Dr. Alexandre Hassanin. The main objective of my PhD thesis was to elucidate the genetic diversity within the genus Giraffa in order to infer the support of several taxonomic hypotheses proposed over the past centuries. The implementation of the project comprised the comparative analysis of nuclear and mitochondrial markers from current individuals, as well as mitochondrial DNA of museum specimens of high historical interest, by using different species delimitation methods (phylogeny, population structure, coalescence). The results allowed for the proposition of a revised giraffe classification on the species and subspecies level, which translates into valuable conservation implications considering the tremendous decline in giraffe numbers and distribution over the past decades.

My current project aims at providing profound insights into past biodiversity and evolution of cranial disparity in the genus Giraffa by analysing museum specimens of the 19th and early 20th century within a paleogenomic and 3D geometric morphometric approach. My overall research perspective is to establish a new interdisciplinary research area linking the diverse fields of palaeogeomics, 3D geometric morphometrics and applied conservation research in order to contribute to the safeguarding of natural populations during the current Anthropocene biodiversity crisis