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For genus g=2i≥4 and the length g−1 partition μ=(4,2,…,2,−2,…,−2) of 0, we compute the first coefficients of the class of D¯¯¯¯(μ) in PicQ(R¯¯¯¯g), where D(μ) is the divisor consisting of pairs [C,η]∈Rg with η≅OC(2x1+x2+⋯+xi−1−xi−⋯−x2i−1) for some points x1,…,x2i−1 on C. We further provide several enumerative results that will be used for this computation.

Using limit linear series on chains of curves, we show that closures of certain Brill-Noether loci contain a product of pointed Brill-Noether loci of small codimension. As a result, we obtain new non-containments of Brill-Noether loci, in particular that dimensionally expected non-containments hold for expected maximal Brill-Noether loci. Using these degenerations, we also give a new proof that Brill-Noether loci with expected codimension −ρ≤⌈g/2⌉ have a component of the expected dimension. Additionally, we obtain new non-containments of Brill-Noether loci by considering the locus of the source curves of unramified double covers.

We prove that the projectivized strata of differentials are not contained in pointed Brill-Noether divisors, with only a few exceptions. For a generic element in a stratum of differentials, we show that many of the associated pointed Brill-Noether loci are of expected dimension. We use our results to study the Auel-Haburcak Conjecture: We obtain new non-containments between maximal Brill-Noether loci in Mg. Our results regarding quadratic differentials imply that the quadratic strata in genus 6 are uniruled.

For genus g=r(r+1)2+1, we prove that via the forgetful map, the universal Prym-Brill-Noether locus Rrg has a unique irreducible component dominating the moduli space Rg of Prym curves.