Generating maps of ecogeographic characterization of the territory (ELC is the acronym in English)
The ELC maps reflect different adaptive scenarios occurring for a species or group of species in a given territory. An adaptive scenario consists of all environmental conditions that determine whether an organism of the target species may occur in it or not. Over time, the adaptive scenarios model the genotypic representation of species through natural selection. This relationship leads to use the adaptive scenarios as a way to approximate the different possible genetic configurations within species. In other words, a practical use of Phenotype = Genotype + Environment relationship.
The ultimate objective of the conservation of plant genetic resources is to preserve the genetic diversity of cultivated species and their wild relatives. Since obtaining genetic information of the approximately 7,000,000 samples conserved in world´s genebanks is an almost incomprehensible work in practical terms, the use of ecogeography and the adaptive scenarios can be a good way to determine if such diversity would be preserved, at least as an initial step before large economic investments in studies of phenotypic and genotypic characterization. For this reason, ELC maps become a very practical tool for the purpose of collection, conservation, characterization and utilization of germplasm.
There are two types of ELC maps, based on species/group of related species and general maps. The difference between the two types depends on how the eco-geographical variables are selected, then these variables will be grouped in categories and their combination will lead to the final categories of the ELC maps. For an ELC map for species or group of related species, bioclimatic, geophysical and soil variables (to be combined) are chosen according to their effect on the adaptation of the target specie(s). The selection of variables in a generalist ELC map is governed by broader criteria, such as the environmental factors that determine the vegetation in the study area.
To learn more about ELC maps and ELC mapas tool, please read the user manual chapter on this tool by clicking here. If you are interested on the original method description, click here to see the publication.