Work continues with multiple collaborators on the Canis Ancestry project at Princeton University. This is a large-scale genomics project to clarify ancestry of Canis species in North America. We are using RAD sequencing on thousands of samples across a broad geographic range to identify genome-wide ancestry informative and adaptive markers in various Canis types.
Along with several collaborators, I am working on RAD-sequencing research to identify ancestry informative and adaptive markers in the southern US Red Wolf population. This research project dovetails with the much larger North American Canine Ancestry Project.
eastern wolf survey
For the past few years I have been collecting noninvasive samples from wolves and coyotes to create genetic profiles to use in Canis assignment tests. This research has helped clarify the extent of occurrence for eastern wolves in Ontario and Quebec. Find out more at easternwolfsurvey.ca or follow me on Twitter @EastWolfSurvey
Inspired by my love of beer and evolutionary processes, I am working on a research project to understand the epigenetic mechanisms associated with various flavour and aromas of hop varieties. A preliminary methylome comparison of Nugget (used for bittering) and Cascade (used for aroma) varieties is underway with plans to expand the project in 2016.
epigenetics of speciation
Although reproductive incompatibility causing speciation has been linked to variable methylation in plants, little is known about the role of methylation in differentiation leading to speciation in wild animal populations. Does variable methylation influence reproductive compatibility and to what extent does it contribute to speciation? I am working on samples from a captive breeding experiment between western gray wolves and western coyotes to understand how epigenetic variation may contribute to reproductive incompatibility. Preliminary results are published here.
california loggerhead shrike
Utilizing mtDNA sequence data and microsatellite profiles, we investigated population genetics of loggerhead shrike populations in California, including mainland California, the Channel Islands (San Clemente, Santa Catalina, Santa Cruz, & Santa Rosa), and the captive breeding population at the San Diego Zoo. Check out the publication here.
Environmental DNA is broadly defined as trace amounts of target DNA in sources such as water, soil, and scat. I am developing species-specific quantitative PCR primers/probes to detect trace amounts of prey DNA in wolf and coyote scat. I am hoping to expand this research to use DNA metabarcoding and next-generation sequencing to do a comparison the two approaches.
American Robins (Turdus migratorius) are the largest among the North American thrushes. They are widespread across the continent with year-round, summer breeding, and winter non-breeding populations. Among the most widely recognized bird species, relatively little is known about their population genetic structure. I am working on a genomic analysis of samples collected from across the continent to provide a better understanding of this successful songbird. Find out more about the American Robin at All About Birds