Eggert Lab at MNRC

Several of the Eggert Lab members were in attendance at the Missouri Natural Resources Conference in Osage Beach Missouri.

Joe Gunn presented his recent work on the Neosho smallmouth bass. Our visiting scholar from the Missouri Department of Conservation, Chelsea Titus, presented on her work on DNA metabarcoding. Our undergraduate researcher, Molly Garrett, was also in attendance to receive the James D Chambers Memorial Scholarship award from the Missouri Chapter of the Wildlife Society in for her academic excellence.

“The Missouri Natural Resources Conference (MNRC) is an annual meeting organized and sponsored by the Missouri Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, The Missouri Chapter of the Society of American Foresters, Missouri Chapter of the Wildlife Society and the Show-Me Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society. This unique blend of disciplines, represented by the four societies, promotes wise use and management of Missouri’s natural resources.

Each year the conference hosts approximately 1,000 established and aspiring natural resource professionals who meet to exchange information and ideas and encourage continued cooperation among resource professionals, agencies, and other natural resource stakeholders. Cooperating agencies are the Missouri Department of Conservation; University of Missouri, School of Natural Resources; Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; U.S. Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service”. –MNRC

Annual Door Decoration

Here in the Eggert Lab we enjoy a good holiday door this time of year. This year’s theme is CSI: North Pole. An interactive display to help Santa conduct microsatellite analyses to determine who stole the cookies? Was it Olive, The other Reindeer? Maybe the Coca Cola Polar Bear? Or even the Abominable Snowman? Only the DNA could help solve the crime in this Wildlife Forensic case!

Kris is Awarded the Eppley Foundation Grant

Our graduate student Kris Budd was awarded the Support for Advanced Scientific Research grant today from the Eppley Foundation for Research for her and Dr. Eggert’s proposal entitled the Genetic and Genomic Diverstiy of the Asian Elephant, which will fund Kris’ research into developing methodology to extract high quality DNA from Dung and fecal samples!

Kris is extremely excited about progressing her research. Thank you to everyone who helped with this proposal!

New Publication from Jake!

Senior graduate student Jacob Burkhart has a new publication in Ecology and Evolution made available today!

Burkhart JJ, Peterman WE, Brocato ER, et al. The influence of breeding phenology on the genetic structure of four pond- breeding salamanders. Ecol Evol. 2017;00:1–12.

Understanding metapopulation dynamics requires knowledge about local population dynamics and movement in both space and time. Most genetic metapopulation studies use one or two study species across the same landscape to infer population dynamics; however, using multiple co- occurring species allows for testing of hypotheses related to different life history strategies. We used genetic data to study dispersal, as measured by gene flow, in three ambystomatid salamanders (Ambystoma annulatum, A. maculatum, and A. opacum) and the Central Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens louisianensis) on the same landscape in Missouri, USA. While all four salamander species are forest dependent organisms that require fishless ponds to reproduce, they differ in breeding phenology and spatial distribution on the landscape. We use these differences in life history and distribution to address the following questions: (1) Are there species- level differences in the observed patterns of genetic diversity and genetic structure? and (2) Is dispersal influenced by landscape resistance? We detected two genetic clusters in A. annulatum and A. opacum on our landscape; both species breed in the fall and larvae overwinter in ponds. In contrast, no structure was evident in A. maculatum and N. v. louisianensis, species that breed during the spring. Tests for isolation by distance were significant for the three ambystomatids but not for N. v. louisianensis. Landscape resistance also contributed to genetic differentiation for all four species. Our results suggest species- level differences in dispersal ability and breeding phenology are driving observed patterns of genetic differentiation. From an evolutionary standpoint, the observed differences in dispersal distances and genetic structure between fall breeding and spring breeding species may be a result of the trade- off between larval period length and size at metamorphosis which in turn may influence the long- term viability of the metapopulation. Thus, it is important to consider life history differences among closely related and ecologically similar species when making management decisions.