These trainees have moved on to other things.....and this is what they are up to now!
Genomic impacts of hybridization between domestic and wild American mink
Supervisors: Jeff Bowman and Paul Wilson
CREATE Program: 2015-17
Thesis defended April 2017
Project Description: While a CREATE trainee, I studied the interface of population ecology and landscape genetics to help identify and mitigate threats to the long-term viability of small-mouthed salamander (Amystoma texanum), whose entire Canadian population is restricted to Pelee Island, in southwestern Ontario. I also worked on investigating the factors that shape the predator’s functional response and developing eDNA techniques to monitor Canadian amphibians. During this time, I mentored and trained other CREATE trainees and secured an NSERC PDF grant to ‘reconcile stable coexistence and “hybrid” superiority in populations of Amystoma salamanders’. I am still associated with the Murray lab at Trent University (Dept. of Biology).
Project Description: I joined the CREATE program late in my PhD work, where I was assessing the effect of habitat fragmentation on contemporary pollen flow with paternity analysis of a forb species of concern (Pulsatilla vulgaris) in calcareous grasslands in Central Europe. During my time with CREATE, I worked on genotyping of P. vulgaris seed embryos with microsatellite markers, analyzing paternity with different software packages, analyzing GIS spatial data, and analyzing landscape genetic data. In September 2016, I started a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Helsinki.
Project Description: In 2015, over 8,000 domestic American mink were intentionally released from farms in Ontario. While those responsible usually have the animal’s welfare in mind, these actions may have unintentional negative consequences to wild mink because the release of domestic organisms to the wild is widely considered a threat to biodiversity. In addition to increased predation, resource competition, and disease introduction, a major threat to biodiversity is the introduction of domestic genes through interbreeding. This project aims to characterize functional genes in American mink thought to be associated with traits affected by domestication. Through the analysis of these genetic markers I hope to determine how ‘re-introduction’ events are affecting genetic diversity and observe if domestic mink functional genes are persisting in wild populations.