Research


 

Desert Tortoise Landscape Genetics
We generated over a terabase of genomic data from desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) across the Mojave Desert. We are now analyzing this data in conjunction with spatial environmental information from the Mojave to learn which parts of the landscape are most important to the species, with an end goal of determining the relative impacts of different solar farm placements on the future of the species.

California Tiger Salamander Pesticide Impact Prediction
The California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense) is a federally-protected species facing threats on multiple fronts. These salamanders live in some of the most heavily-farmed regions in the country, and pesticides are impacting their survival and ability to stave off a hybrid invasion from the introduced barred tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum mavortium). There are thousands of chemicals being applied every year, however, so it is not feasible to test the impacts of each of these chemicals on animals in the laboratory. To create a short list of candidate harmful chemicals, this project integrates spatial pesticide application data as resistive elements in landscape genetic models. I will be testing to see if incorporation of pesticide information improves landscape genetic models of population connectivity. Chemicals that correlate strongly with reduced movement through the landscape will be prioritized for further experimental testing in the lab.

 

Yellow anacondas (Eunectes notaeus)
Yellow anacondas are hunted extensively in northern Argentina for their skins. In 2001, the government of Argentina initiated a sustainable harvest plan and asked for input from biologists. This research determined levels of differentiation and connectivity between populations of yellow anacondas within Argentina.

This work involved a large sampling of anacondas in Argentina and analysis using three mitochondrial markers (including a novel approach to amplify the control region, which has been duplicated in yellow anacondas, making independent amplification problematic). The goals of this stage were to identify spatial genetic structure within Argentina, to estimate migration between regions, and to investigate environmental factors which may be driving these patterns.

3gene