January 17 2013

5:00 pm BSRB 154

EcoEvoPub Series

Graduate Student Presentations


Rachel Johnston
Dept of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

"Unraveling the Genes Responsible for Ecologically Important Traits"

Understanding the genes underlying ecologically important traits is essential to investigate fundamental evolutionary questions. However, few genotype-phenotype associations have been identified in non-model species, due to both practical and theoretical challenges that include experimentally testing gene function and teasing apart the complexity of gene interactions. RNA-Seq and systems-level analyses are valuable tools to address these challenges and identify ecologically important genotype-phenotype relationships in natural populations. I am applying such approaches to investigate two polymorphic phenotypes with presumed fitness consequences-- migration behavior in the Swainsons thrus(Catharus ustulatus) and coat color in the gray wolf (Canis lupus). I will discuss the techniques, challenges, and preliminary results of this work. The findings of this research will be valuable for understanding the evolution of avian migration and mammalian coloration, and more generally, will shed light on patterns of natural selection at the molecular level.

Devaughn Fraser
Dept of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

"Bats in Agriculture: How farming practices influence the health and diets of bat communities in California agroecosystem"

Bats provide important ecosystem services to farmers through their consumption of crop-damaging insects. However, due to their ecological roles, bats may incur a high risk of exposure to toxic chemical insecticides and be largely impacted by the effects of these chemicals on their insect prey-base. My aim is to assess both the health impacts of cholinesterase inhibiting(ChEI) insecticides on big brown bats and to characterize the dietary diversity and overlap of all bat species sampled in almond orchards across California. These results will be applied to developing an ecological risk assessment for bats with respect to ChEI insecticides. I will discuss my goals and strategies for addressing this important conservation issue as well as the long term implications for sustainable agriculture in California, given the potential demographic outcomes of bat populations that are chronically exposed to these chemicals.
















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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