Animals can be shaped by their environments through natural selection, phenotypic plasticity as well as epigenetic mechanisms. Teasing apart the roles of these complex processes is key not only to understand how organisms are adapted to their ecosystems (i.e., both abiotic conditions and biotic interactions), but also to understand how resilient or sensitive they may be to environmental changes and human impacts. Additionally, identifying key genes underlying specific traits such as environmental tolerance or life history (e.g., homing & migration) can serve as diagnostic tools to promote resilient populations or assess risk.
Our research group studies these questions by combining functional genomic tools (e.g., transcriptomics and whole genome sequencing) with collaborative, complementary approaches to assess organismal responses and traits, such as environmental tolerance, biochemical assays, metabolic rate, habitat utilization (via animal telemetry & stable isotopes), and body condition assessments. Current projects include:
- Chromosomal level assembly and annotation of leatherback genome collaborators: Dr. Erich Jarvis (Rockefeller University & Genome 10K Project) & NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center
- Genetic determinants of leatherback migration collaborators: NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center
- Mechanisms of thermal plasticity and adaptation in native and invasive fishes collaborators: Drs. Ken Jeffries (U. of Manitoba) & Andrew Whitehead (UC Davis)
- Transcriptomic signatures of fibropapillomatosis in Hawaiian green turtles collaborators: Dr. Jennifer Lynch (National Institute of Standards & Technologies) & NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center
- Transcriptomic signatures of temperature dependent sex determination & maturation collaborators: Dr. Camryn Allen (NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center)
We will likely have upcoming opportunities on current and future ecological adaptation research. If you are interested in these projects, please see our opportunities page!