Student Name and Presentations                                

Title                                                                                                          
Abstract

David Banks-Richardson

 

 

 

 

 

UNM Biology Research Day

April 10, 2009

Poster

 

 

 

 

UNM Biology Research Day

April 2, 2010

Poster

Diatom community composition changes in Bitter Lake across long time scales.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Introduced Exotic to Shemya Island of the Far Western Aleutian Islands of Alaska

Authors: David Banks-Richardson*, Yadéeh E. Sawyer, Stephen MacDonald, and Joseph A. Cook

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Changes in Diatom and Ostracod Community Composition in Bitter Lake, New Mexico Related to Changes in Hydrological Management

Authors: David Banks-Richardson, Bruce Allen, and Rebecca Bixby

The playa lakes of eastern New Mexico are home to a wide variety of organisms and are subject to water removal, largely due to irrigation. This water loss can change the concentration of various chemicals in these lakes leading to alterations in the community composition. One group of these community members are a microscopic algal taxa colloquially known as diatoms. The diatom species assemblages represented in a body of water can be dependent upon factors including salinity, water depth, and nutrient concentration. The goal of this investigation is to examine changes in the diatomic flora across long time scales in Bitter Lake, NM to determine playa lake responses to increasing salinity. We hope to explore this topic by examining diatom microfossils preserved in lake sediments. This analysis is important because it enables researchers to examine how this habitat, as well a other playa lakes in the region, respond to habitat alterations.

 

 

Introduction of exotic species is a monumental conservation issue on islands across the globe. Mammalian introductions to islands have been extremely devastating, as evidenced throughout human history by rat, rabbit, and cat introductions. Two species of deer mice, Peromyscus keeni and P. maniculatus occur in Northwestern North America. Until recently, the only known populations of deer mice in Alaska were found along the southeastern coast. Two disjunct populations in mainland Alaska and the outer Aleutian Islands were recently identified in field inventories and questions surrounding their identity and origin arose. The Aleutian Island Shemya Island population was first discovered in 1995 and is most closely related to the Rocky Mountain States lineage in the western lower 48 states. This relationship suggests anthropogenic introduction of P. maniculatus to this region

 

 

The playa lakes of the southern high plains of the United States are shallow basins formed by wind erosion. These lakes can be subject to water removal from various causes including irrigation, evaporation, and changes in hydrological management. This water removal can lead to changes in the salinity of water bodies. Bitter Lake was subject to artificial modifications to surface water and may have experienced salinity changes. We predict that modifications to the salinity may lead to shifts the communities of aquatic organisms between saline and fresh water assemblages. A 2.25 m sediment core was taken from Bitter Lake in 2008. The diatom microfossils and ostracod assemblages were examined from multiple levels of the core. Sediment samples were taken from sections of the core that correspond to visible changes in sediment type. The diatom assemblages indicate key differences between the modern diatom community and the community preserved in older sediments. Most notable is a change in the relative abundance of the diatom genus Denticula. At the bottom of the core it represents 41 % of the diatom assemblage and near the top of the core it only represents 27% of the diatoms enumerated. The ostracod community was dominated by the estuarian genus Cyrideis. The ostracod assemblages also showed increases in overall densities in coarse grained that may correspond to flood events from the main feeder stream. Preliminary data suggest that Bitter Lake has been dynamic throughout its history and has been influenced by several hydrologic processes.

Hiyatsi Bassett

 

 

 

 

 

 

19th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 2, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SACNAS; Anaheim, CA
Sept. 30, 2010 - Oct. 3, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 1, 2011

Evolution of Vespertilionidae myotis: A morphological study of the endangered species, Myotis sodalis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phylogeography of North Pacific Coastal ermine (Mustela erminea)

Authors: Hiyatsi Bassett, Natalie Dawson, Bradley Truett and Joseph Cook

North Pacific ermine (Mustela erminea) provide insight  into the Coastal Refuge Hypothesis

Authors: Hiyatsi Bassett, Natalie Dawson, Bradley Truett and Joseph Cook

Insight into the Coastal Refuge Hypothesis as Observed in the North Pacific Ermine (Mustela erminea).

Authors: HIYATSI BASSETT, N. Dawson, B. Truett and J.A. Cook, Department of Biology and the Museum of Southwestern Biology, UNM.

Bats in general are an important part of the ecosystem. They help by pollinating plants and feeding on insects. Problems arise when they become absent from the areas where they were once found. Certain species, like the Myotis sodalis, are endangered and other bats from the same genus can still thrive in the area. If we can understand why this occurs, this will help with conservation efforts to boost the population of this endangered species. I want to study the evolution of Vespertilionidae myotis with an emphasis on morphological differences within Vespertilionidae myotis and Myotis sodalis. I plan to take measurements of about 150 species, 50 of which will be Myotis sodalis, and all will be from different ranges throughout the US. The control will be the species that roost in the same ranges as Myotis sodalis, which will be my experimental group. Depending on the measurements, I will be able to determine if there are significant differences in morphological adaptation that enables some bats to adapt better to ecological conditions than others.

 

 

Mustela erminea (ermine) is a key terrestrial predator of the North Pacific Coastal Biome that includes the largest remaining temperate rainforest worldwide. Ermine originated in the early Pleistocene in Europe and first colonized North America across Beringia around 500,000 years ago and then on at least two other occasions more recently. Fossils and preliminary DNA studies indicate that refugial populations of ermine existed north and south of Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets in North America during the Wisconsin glaciation, but ermine also apparently persisted and diverged in a hypothesized unglaciated refuge along the North Pacific Coast. This coastal region shows a high degree of regional endemism for mammals. We are more intensively investigating the validity and spatial extent of these clades and their zones of contact with geographically extensive samples of ermine from throughout the North Pacific Coast. Using approximately 800 basepairs of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene, we tested the validity of these distinctive ermine and refined their distribution. We found that these three clades likely represent new species and their distribution suggests a complex history of colonization by ermine of North America and the North Pacific Coast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The North Pacific Coastal Biome includes the largest remaining temperate rainforest worldwide and where the Mustela erminea (ermine) is a key terrestrial predator. Ermine originated in Europe during the early Pleistocene and first colonized North America across Beringia around 500,000 years ago, and more recently on two other occasions. Fossils and preliminary DNA studies indicate that populations of ermine existed north and south of Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets in North America during the Wisconsin glaciation, but ermine appear to have persisted and diverged in a hypothesized unglaciated refuge along the North Pacific Coast. This coastal region shows a high degree of regional endemism for mammals. We are more intensively investigating the validity and spatial extent of these clades and their contact zones with geographically extensive samples of ermine from throughout the North Pacific Coast. We tested the validity of these distinctive ermine and refined their distribution using approximately 800 basepairs of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. We found that these three clades likely represent new species and that their distribution suggests a complex history of colonization by ermine of North America and the North Pacific Coast. Further investigation to test the validity and distribution will be conducted using nuclear DNA. The preservation of this biome needs to be considered if this endemic trend is observable in other species of this region.

Alyssa Begay

20th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 1, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Society of Parasitologists

Anchorage, Alaska

June 2011

 

 

Southwestern Association of Parisiotologists, Kingston, OK, 2012.

New species of Gordionus (Nematomorpha: Gordiida) from the Southern Rocky Mountains.

Authors: ALYSSA BEGAY, Undergraduate Opportunities (UnO) Program, Museum of Southwestern Biology, Department of Biology, UNM, Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa, Zoology Museum, University of Hamburg, Hamberg, Germany, Matthew G. Bolek, Department of Zoology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater OK, and Ben Hanelt, Department of Biology, UNM.

New species of Gordionus (Nematomorpha: Gordiida) from the Southern Rocky Mountains.

 

New species of Gordionus (Nematomorpha: Gordiida) from Washington State.

Begay, A., M. G. Bolek, A. Schmidt-Rhaesa, and B. Hanelt.

The phylum Nematomorpha contains approximately 300 species in 20 genera. The genus Gordionus contains 56 species, four of which occur in the contiguous United States. Here we describe two new Gordionus species from the southern Rocky Mountains. Worms were collected at two sites in the Santa Fe National Forest in northern New Mexico during the summer months of 2005 to 2010. Sites consisted of first-order streams above 3,120 meters. The first new species measures 163 (57–220) cm long, and has flat, roundish, and sometimes fused areoles covering all parts of the body, with indistinct interareolar furrows and short interareolar structures. Tubercles
between areoles are present in fair quantity. Males contain precloacal rows of bristles and postcloacal spines immediately posterior of the cloacal opening and extending onto the inner side of the tail lobes. The cloacal opening is surrounded by broad bristles with stout apexes. At the anterior of the cloacal opening, raised, narrow adhesive warts are present on the ventral side. The second species measures 98.5 (87–107) cm long, and has many similarities to the first, but shows unique
circumcloacal spines and a cuticular pattern resembling G. violaceus from Europe, which has not yet been described for Nearctic species. The limitations of morphological characters and the utility of molecular data in determining species within this genus will be discussed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gordionus is one of twenty extant genera within the phylum Nematomorpha, which consists
of about 320 species. Fifty-six species of the genus Gordionus have been described from
throughout the world, 7 of these from the contiguous United States. From 1998 to 2003,
carabid beetles infected with hairworms were collected from 4 sites within the Hanford
Nuclear Site and the Hanford Reach National Monument, Washington State. Pitfall traps
with ethylene glycol were used to collect beetles; worms emerged partially from hosts. Thirty
infected hosts were collected from 6 species and contained 2 new Gordionus species. Since
the posterior end remained within the hosts, the morphological characters of this character-
rich region were difficult to view using SEM. Species 1 had square-shaped polygonal
areoles present in the anterior and posterior end. Interareolar structures are present in the
two opposing sides of the areoles and postcloacal spines are present. Bristles are abundant in
the anterior end and change direction in between areoles, and borders between bristles and
areoles are present. Mid-body, canoe shaped areoles run parallel to the worm’s longitudinal axis. Species 2 had square shaped areoles with polygonal-shaped neighbouring areoles.
Interareolar structures are present mainly on opposing areoles; tubercles were present
between areoles. Bristles, precloacal spines and adhesive warts are present. To confirm that
these represent separate species, the mitochondrial barcoding region of cox1 was sequenced
and analyzed. In addition, we used the cox1 gene to produce a phylogenetic hypothesis of
the relationship of several Gordionus species. Including the new species presented here,
known Gordionus diversity from the contiguous US has almost doubled over the last year,
suggesting that there is much diversity to be described. Since many gordiids are collected in
pitfall traps, usually as a byproduct of entomological collections, methods described here for
microscopy and DNA extractions of worms fixed within the host by ethylene glycol will be
of tremendous use.

Raphaelita Bishara

NABS conference

June 6-11, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

35th Annual West Coast Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research Conference

April 24, 2010

 

A comparison of mesocosm experiments and Bosque del Apache NWR

 

 

Comparison of community structure in a controlled mesocosm experiment and natural freshwater systems in the middle Rio Grande, New Mexico

Abiotic factors effect community structure during drydown in a mesocosm experiment and in natural freshwater systems in the middle Rio Grande, New Mexico

Authors: Raphaelita Bishara, Ayesha S. Burdett and Thomas F. Turner

 

Mesocosms are used to study how nature affects organisms under different conditions that can be controlled. We are using mesocosms to study the effects of different parameters of drying conditions that occur in the Middle Rio Grande on the invertebrate and fish communities. In my research, I expect to find the data from the mesocosms are very similar to those found at Bosque del Apache NWR, a site on the river that undergoes drying conditions. We used 24 mesocosms, giving us four treatments with replication. We used a cross-factorial design in which our treatments included leaf litter with fish, leaf litter without fish, no leaf litter with fish, and no leaf litter without fish. I will be be comparing total abundance, species richness, and diversity of the invertebrate community, and also physical data between Bosque del Apache and the mesocosms. No results are found yet but if the two locations are indeed similar, I expect concentration of dissolved oxygen, turbidity, pH, salinity and taxa diversity to be similar. When drying pools form, I suspect concentrations of DO to dramatically decrease, having an effect on the species living in the pool because they no longer have a source of oxygen. Data acquisition is ongoing and will be complete by the end of the year.

 

 

 

Community structure in the Rio Grande may be heavily influenced by seasonal drydown, which affects abiotic conditions and biotic interactions of aquatic organisms, and diminishes available aquatic habitat. During the process of drydown, abiotic factors such as water chemistry (e.g., conductivity, oxygen concentration, pH, temperature, turbidity) change dramatically within and among river habitats and these changes are hypothesized to affect community composition. We conducted a six-week mesocosm experiment to mimic community dynamics and succession of arid-river pools. To verify that conditions in mesocosms were similar to natural pools, we compared water chemistry and aquatic organism abundances in mesocosms to survey results from the Rio Grande and neighboring wetlands. Invertebrate and fish communities will be described in terms of abundance, diversity and community structure in relation to abiotic variables. Preliminary results suggest that water chemistry of mesocosms matches natural pools, which indicates that our experiment mimics natural environmental variation. Semi-natural mesocosms can lead to a better understanding of abiotic and biotic drivers of aquatic communities, but only to the extent that they reflect natural environments.

Natalie Blea

2009 Anolis symposium     

October 2-4, 2009

Poster

35th Annual West Coast Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research Conference

April 24, 2010

 

 

Elevation of the subspecies Anolis humilis marsupialis to species status

Elevation and redescription of an endemic montane anole related to Anolis humilis with analysis of its conservation status

Authors: Natalie Blea, Steven Poe and Mason J. Ryan

We describe a new species of Anolis in Puntarenas Province near Alfombra, Costa Rica. The new species was originally recognized as a subspecies showing very little variation from Anolis humilis humilis by Edward H. Taylor in 1956. Anolis humilis marsupialis is distinguishable by its slightly larger body size, greater number of enlarged middorsal rows, size of axillary pocket (large opening with deep axillary pocket in A.humilis marsupialis, shallow tubular axillary pocket in A. humilis humilis), and dewlap coloration (dark red in A. humilis marsupialis, red with yellow border in A. humilis humilis). We present a phylogenetic analysis of the new species elevating A. humilis marsupialis to species status.

Nicole Caimi

21th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department

March 30, 2012

Microbiological Testing in El Malpais Caves for the Presence of Geomyces destructans, the Fungus Associated with White Nose Syndrome in Bats

.Jesse M. Young, Ali J. Ghadimi, Nicole A. Caimi, Kaitlyn J. Hughes, Diana E. Northup

 

Carmela Carrasco

 

 

 

 

 

National Conference of Honor’s Programs in San Antonio, October 2008

Darwin Day at UNM, February 2009

Undergraduate research Symposium-UNM

6th International Symbiosis Society Congress, at Madison Wisconsin in August 2009

 

 

 

19th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 2, 2010

The Search for Cyanobacteria in Tissues of Coral, Nudibranch, and Foraminifera

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Search for Nitrogen Sources in a Reef Ecosystem

Authors: Carmela M. Carrasco, Cristina Takacs-Vesbach, and Ursula L. Shepherd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diversity of Potential Nitrogen Fixing Microbes Associated with Three Marine Reef Invertebrates (Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef)

Authors: Carmela M. Carrasco, Cristina Takacs-Vesbach, and Ursula L. Shepherd

We are studying a marine community made up of Heteroxenia sp., a soft coral, the nudibranch Phyllodesmium lizardensis, and the foraminifera Marginopora vertebralis. This study examines the complexity of microbial communities within organisms that are known to be involved in symbiotic relationships with the algae, Symbiodinium. Other researchers have found cyanobacteria in association with Symbiodinium in hard corals (Lesser et al., 2007) and have demonstrated that the nitrogen that the cyanobacteria produce is utilized by the Symbiodinium. We are using genetic techniques to look for cyanobacteria in an effort to understand how critical the relationship between cyanobacteria and Symbiodinium is in this system.

 

 

 

Coral reefs house approximately 90% of the ocean’s diversity. Microorganisms form a vital portion of reef ecosystems, many living as nutrient supplying symbionts within animal hosts. We are studying a marine community from Australia’s Northern Great Barrier Reef made up of Heteroxenia sp., a soft coral, the nudibranch Phyllodesmium lizardensis, and the foraminifera Marginopora vertebralis. All three are known to be involved in symbiotic relationships with the algae Symbiodinium and it has been suggested that nitrogen fixing microorganisms such as cyanobacteria may also be present. The algae provide photosynthetic carbon products to their hosts. However, nutrients like nitrogen remain limited in the system and other researchers have found nitrogen fixing cyanobacteria in association with hard corals that house Symbiodinium. To better understand how nitrogen is entering this system we examined the microbial communities within these three organisms using genetic techniques to look for cyanobacteria and nitrogen fixation functional genes. Cyanobacteria 16s rRNA and nifH primers were used to amplify PCR products and clone libraries were constructed. Preliminary results indicate that cyanobacteria are present in 75% and nifH in 100% of the sampled foraminifera. Microorganisms compound the complexity of most ecosystems as nutrient providers, parasites and/or structural components. The goal of this study is to elucidate the role microorganisms play in supplying nitrogen to embers of a marine reef system.

 

The diversity of marine reefs is supported by numerous symbiotic relationships that provide sources of stability, in the form of supplemental nutrients, for hosts and symbionts alike. Nitrogen has long been identified as a limiting nutrient in these systems and plays a crucial role in sustaining the balance between invertebrate hosts and carbon fixing symbionts, such as the dinoflagellate algae Symbiodinium. However, despite multiple lines of evidence for microbial nitrogen fixation, relatively little is known about nitrogen fixing microbes in marine reefs and it has primarily been attributed to free-living cyanobacteria. In this study I characterized the assemblages of nitrogen fixing microbes associated with three marine invertebrates from the Northern Great Barrier Reef; a soft coral, Heteroxenia sp., a nudibranch, Phyllodesmium lizardensis, and a foraminifera, Marginopora vertebralis. Molecular techniques were used to recover cyanobacterial 16s rRNA genes and nifH genes from genetic material extracted from the tissues of all three invertebrates. Those sequences were then sequenced and analyzed for identification. Cyanobacterial genes were recovered from all three organisms and grouped primarily with the Oscillatoriales, 72% of the cyanobacterial genes found were most similar to non-nitrogen fixing cyanobacteria. No nifH genes were amplified from either coral or nudibranch samples. I found 151 species level nifH operational taxonomic units associated with the foraminifera and the majority of these grouped most closely with members of the α-Proteobacteria. This study is the first to look at microbial nitrogen fixation associated with assorted marine invertebrates from the same source location. It provides evidence for the complexity of the microbial components of nitrogen cycling in marine reefs and how those microbial assemblages differ among community members.

Katherine Cauthen

19th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 2, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 1, 2011

In-group versus Out-group Altruism as a Function of Perceived Vulnerability to Disease and Political Values

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In-group versus Out-group Directed Altruism in Humans as a Function of Parasite Stress.


Authors: KATHERINE CAUTHEN, Undergraduate Opportunties (UnO) Program, Museum of Southwestern Biology, Department of Biology, UNM.

Altruism has been characterized in many ways, but the current literature lacks an empirical study of altruism as it is directed towards in-groups versus out-groups. An evolutionary perspective may enlighten the dichotomy, specifically a parasite theory of human behavior. In evolutionary history it would have been adaptive to avoid out-groups. Populations would each carry their own pathogens to which in-group members would be immune, but that would present novel challenges to out-group members. Additionally, out-groups would have different norms to prevent the transmission of pathogens, which might have violated other groups’ norms. We posit that this general rule of out-group avoidance to prevent illness could be applied to altruistic behavior.
This individual differences study seeks to characterize the dichotomy between in-group and out-group directed altruism as a function of parasite stress and political values. To do so, perceived vulnerability to disease, conservatism-liberalism, and willingness to engage in altruistic behavior directed towards in-group members and out-group members will be measured using questionnaires in an undergraduate population.
We hypothesize that 1a) perceived vulnerability to disease will correlate positively with in-group altruism and 1b) negatively with out-group altruism. Additionally, 2) liberalism will correlate positively with out-group altruism and 3) conservatism will correlate negatively with out-group altruism. Finally, we predict that 4a) perceived vulnerability to disease and 4b) conservatism-liberalism will not differentially predict in-group altruism.

 

This individual differences study seeks to characterize the dichotomy between in-group and out-group directed altruism as a function of parasite stress and political values. Altruism has been characterized in many ways, but the literature lacks an understanding of why altruism is differentially directed towards in-groups versus out-groups. We hypothesize that a parasite theory of human behavior selected for an adaptation to avoid out-groups. Populations each carry unique pathogens to which in-group members are immune, but that present novel challenges to out-group members. We posit that this general rule of out-group avoidance to prevent disease contraction is reflected in the differential allocation of altruism towards in-groups versus out-groups. Perceived vulnerability to disease, conservatism-liberalism, and willingness to engage in altruistic behavior directed towards in-group members and out-group members will be measured using questionnaires in an undergraduate population. We hypothesize that 1a) perceived vulnerability to disease will correlate positively with in-group altruism and 1b) negatively with out-group altruism. Additionally, 2a) liberalism will correlate positively with out-group altruism, and 2b) conservatism will correlate negatively with out-group altruism.

 

 

 

 

The parasite stress theory of sociality posits that individuals bias contact with others (i.e., show assortative sociality) based on contagion risk. Due to localized, antagonistic coevolutionary arms races between parasites and their hosts, out-group members potentially carry novel, dangerous pathogens, and there has been selective pressure on the behavioral immune system to prevent social interactions that would expose an individual to such novel parasites. I hypothesized that parasite stress selected for differential allocation of altruism via assortative sociality and philopatry, such that high parasite stress would select for the allocation of altruism towards genetic relatives and non-related in-group members, and against the allocation of altruism towards non-related out-group members. A questionnaire using self-report measures of altruism, constructed by the investigators, and attitudes and history of disease was administered to 57 undergraduate psychology students. Although the results were somewhat inconsistent, trends in the data suggested that the hypothesis might be supported with future research, and statistically significant findings supported the idea that altruism is optimally allocated towards in- and out-group members based on parasite stress. Future research should focus on clarifying these relationships, perhaps using a behavioral measure.

April Chavez

2011 Biomedical Research Symposium; Albuquerque, NM

August 12, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21st Annual Research Day

UNM Biology Department

March 30, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Society of Mammalogists, Reno, NV. 2012.

Taming of the Dusky Shrew: An attempt to identify a criptic species

Authors: April Chavez and Yadéeh Sawyer

An Increase in Biodiversity as Seen Through Genetic Differentiation in the Dusky Shrew (Sorex monticolus).

April M. Chavez and Yadéeh E.Sawyer

Cryptic Speciation within the Dusky Shrew (Sorex monticolus)

April Chavez and Yadéeh Sawyer

Every species, whether captivating or mundane, carries an evolutionary narrative waiting to be told. Investigations of the Dusky Shrew, Sorex monticolus indicate that species boundaries and taxonomy are unclear, with a high potential for cryptic or undiscovered species. Previous work along the North Pacific Coast hypothesized the existence of two sub-species, identifying them as either Coastal or Continental. Additionally, a Northern and Southern division within the Continental group was suggested. Mitochondrial DNA (Cytochrome b) was used to construct haplo9type networks, phylogenetic trees, and population demographics. Standard external measurements of museum specimens were taken to explore morphological variation, and occurrence points to generate species distribution models. Preliminary analysis supports the hypothesis that at least two distinct groups (probably at the species level) of shrew exist within S. monticolus. Significant differences between the Coastal and the Continental groups were found, but limited differences were found between the Northern and Sothern Continental groups.

 

 

 

 

Every species carries an evolutionary narrative waiting to be told. Investigations of the Dusky Shrew, Sorex monticolus, indicate that species boundaries and taxonomy are unclear, with a high potential for cryptic speciation. Previous work hypothesized the existence of two sub-species, identifying them as either a Coastal or a Continental lineage. Additionally, a Northern and Southern division within the Continental group was suggested. Preliminary haplotype networks, phylogenetic trees, and population demographics were constructed using Mitochondrial DNA (cytochrome b). Standard occurrence points of museum specimens were taken to explore morphological variation and to generate species distribution models. Preliminary analysis supported the hypothesis that at least two distinct groups (probably at the species level) of shrews exist within S. monticolus.  Significant differences between the Coastal and the Continental groups were found, but limited differences were found between the Northern and Southern Continental groups. Recent nuclear analyses have also shown some differentiation within the S. monticolus complex.

 

 

 

 

 

All species, no matter how mundane or unique, carry an evolutionary story waiting to be told. The narrative of the Dusky Shrew, Sorex monticolus, indicates that species boundaries and taxonomy are unclear, with a high potential for cryptic speciation. Previous work hypothesized the existence of two sub-species, identifying them as either a Coastal or a Continental lineage. Additionally, a Northern and Southern partition within the Continental group was suggested. Preliminary haplotype networks, phylogenetic trees, and population demographics were constructed using Mitochondrial DNA (cytochrome b). Standard occurrence points of museum specimens were taken to explore morphological distinction and to generate species distribution models. Preliminary analysis supported the hypothesis that at least two divergent groups (probably at the species level) of shrews exist within S. monticolus. Major differences between the Coastal and the Continental groups were found, but limited differences were found between the Northern and Southern Continental groups. Recent nuclear analyses have also shown some differentiation within the S. monticolus complex.

Jobette “Joey” Chour

SACNAS; Anaheim, CA
Sept. 30, 2010 - Oct. 3, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 1, 2011

Morphological variation of the greater earless lizard Cophosaurus texanus in New Mexico

Authors: Joey Chour, J. Tomasz Giermakowski, Howard Snell.

 

Prevalence of Ectoparasitic Arthropods on Spiny Lizards in New Mexico.


Authors: J. CHOUR, T. Giermakowski and H.L. Snell, Department of Biology, and the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles, Museum of Southwestern Biology, UNM.

The morphology of a species is often related to characteristics of the environment. Although many studies have shown associations between morphology and habitat, few have considered differences between the center and edge of the geographic range of a species. Our objective is to test whether there are differences in morphology within a species’ range and, if so, whether these differences relate to differences in the environment. We compare individuals of the greater earless lizard, Cophosaurus texanus, from different parts of New Mexico including individuals from the edge
of their geographic range. We use measurements from museum specimens as well as live lizards captured in the field. Characteristics of the environment are quantified from electronically available maps. We expect environments to differ between the edge of the range and its center and also expect a relationship between the environment and
morphological traits. If these hypotheses are supported, then our results would suggest that the environment is important in influencing morphology and that it plays a role in delimiting distribution. Our findings would thus help in understanding how environmental variation could constrain the distribution of C. texanus.

 

 

 

 

Ectoparasites are known to carry an array of diseases that are contagious to humans and other vertebrates. Variation in their prevalence can affect the likelihood of disease transmission between species. Our objective is to determine the differences among numbers of ectoparasitic arthropods that occur on lizards. We focus on differences between seasons (spring, summer, and fall) and locations. First, we examined whether ectoparasites can be detected reliably on museum specimens by determining if ectoparasites remain on a preserved specimen. Preliminary results suggest that ectoparasites can be detected in museum specimens that date as far back as 1949. In addition, the occurrence of ectoparasites on lizards is high: more than 80% of examined specimens of Crevice Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus poinsetti) had external parasites. To determine the effects of preservation on external parasites found on specimens, we are monitoring recently preserved specimens. We examined individuals of Sceloperous poinsetti, S. undulatus, and S. magister found in the Museum of Southwestern Biology, and will examine live lizards at various sites throughout the state. Resulting data gathered from museum specimens and data obtained from field collection will be compared to find resemblance in ectoparasitic quantities before collection and after extended period of preservation. Ectoparasites will be identified and thus our findings would help in the understanding risk of disease.

Nathan Cournoyer

21st Annual Research Day

UNM Biology Department

March 30, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease 10th Annual Workshop and Conference, Michigan.  2012.

The Relationship Between Reported Cases and Deaths of Influenza in the Pre-vaccine United States

Nathan Cournoyer and Christian Gunning

Can reported influenza deaths be used to estimate disease burden dynamics?

Nathan Cournoyer and Christian Gunning

 

Influenza is a viral disease responsible for considerable morbidity and mortality both within the United States and abroad.  Since the inclusion of influenza case and death statistics in U.S. Public Health Reports, deaths have acted as the primary measure of the disease.  While death reports are more complete than case reports only a fraction of influenza cases result in death.  In order to gain a better understanding of the disease we have been working to determine the relationship between reported influenza cases and influenza deaths.  We have collected data from weekly reports for 42 cities within the continental U.S., spanning from 1924 to 1948.  During this time period influenza vaccination had not been invented, and the use of antibiotics was not wide spread.  We have used a linear regression model and found that the strongest correlation is between case reports that lag death reports by one week.  All analysis has been done using R.  Further research will include determining the proportion of influenza cases that result in death.  The findings of this research will allow us to estimate the number of influenza cases for data sets where case information is lacking, or where only death reports are available.  

 

 

 

 

Influenza is a viral disease responsible for considerable human morbidity and mortality worldwide. Since 1918, when U.S. Public Health Reports began including both influenza case and death statistics, epidemiologists have used death reports as the primary measure of influenza dynamics. Death reporting is more complete than case reporting, despite case reports providing a more direct estimate of actual influenza cases.

Here, we estimate the relation between death reports and case reports, so that death reports can be used as a proxy for influenza infection dynamics. We use weekly influenza case and death reports for 42 U.S. cities in the pre-vaccine and pre-antibiotic era. Weekly reports were manually transcribed from U.S. Public Health Reports from 1924 to 1948, totaling 1,248 weeks. For each city we used a linear model that regressed reported cases onto reported deaths. Since cases precede deaths, we tested our model with a range of weekly lags between case and death reports. We evaluated the distribution of R2 at each lag, and found that a lag of one week (case reports lagged death reports) had the greatest median and inner quartile range of R2. The mean, median, and coefficient of variation of slopes at this one-week lag will be reported. Here we quantify the relationship between reported influenza cases and deaths. This relationship can be used in instances where death reports are the only data available, providing a more accurate view of disease dynamics.

Matthew Garcia

Rio Grande Branch of ASM

February 27, 2009

UNM Biology Research Day

April 10, 2009

International Congress of Spelology

July 19, 2009

SACNAS National Conference October 15-18, 2009

 

 

 

19th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 2, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SACNAS; Anaheim, CA
Sept. 30, 2010 - Oct. 3, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Mexico Geological Society Spring Meeting
Friday, April 15, 2011
NM Tech Campus
Socorro, New Mexico 87801

Discovering new diversity in Hawaiian lava tube microbial mats.

Authors: Garcia, M.G., Moya, M., Spilde, M.N., Stone, F.D., Northup, D.E.

 

 

Microbial Diversity in Hawaiian and Azorean Lava tubes: A Comparison

Authors: Matthew G. Garcia, Jennifer J. Marshall Hathaway, Monica Moya, Michael N. Spilde, Fred D. Stone, Maria de Lurdes N. E. Dapkevicius, and Diana E. Northup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geochimical parameters that influence the distribution of bacterial communities in lava tubes in New Mexico and Hawai'i: a comparison

Authors: Matthew G. Garcia, Jennifer J. Marshall Hathaway and Diana E. Northup

Bacterial mats cover walls and ceilings of lava tubes around the world, yet little is known about their composition and role in the ecosystem or what controls their diversity. To address these issues, we ask: 1) What bacterial species are found in the mats? 2) Does diversity vary with respect to the different ages of lava flow? 3) Does species composition differ between differently colored mats? and, 4) What is the amount of organic carbon present in the drip water entering the cave system that can fuel heterotrophic growth? Samples were collected from microbial mats in eight different lava tubes found on the Big Island of Hawaii. Sampled mats ranged in color including yellow, white, pink, tan, and what appears to be an organic ooze. Samples were aseptically collected from each cave, and DNA was extracted and then purified. The 16S rRNA gene was amplified using PCR (,1365 bp), cloned, and then later sequenced. From this, closest relatives were found using the Ribosomal Database Project II and BLAST databases, and a phylogenetic tree was constructed using PAUP. Actinobacteria were found to dominate in most microbial mats, but not all. Other closest relatives were found to be Cyanobacteria, Acidobacteria, Bacteroidetes, OP11, Chloroflexi, and all divisions of the Proteobacteria. From our results we see a trend of less diversity in the yellow colored mats then in the white, while the greatest diversity was found in the organic ooze. Our studies show a great deal of novel diversity in these striking mats.

 

 

 

Colorful Bacterial mats cover walls and ceilings of lava tubes all around the world, yet little is known about their composition or what controls their diversity. To address these issues, we ask: 1) What bacterial species are found in the mats? 2) Does species composition differ between differently colored mats? 3) What geographical difference do why see between Hawaiian and Azorean sites.

White and yellow microbial mats samples were collected from four lava tubes from the Big Island of Hawai’i and from the Azorean island of Terceira so that we can compare and contrast the diversity found in lava tubes from different geographical regions of the world. The 16S gene was sequenced from each sample so that we could compare the diversity in the each cave. We then used statistical programs to compare the environmental controls on microbial diversity by comparing community structure to environmental parameters such as precipitation, elevation and geographic region. Scanning electron microscopy was done of samples and showed similarities between both regions.

The geographical locations of the caves seem to have been the major contributor the differences in the community structures. Fifteen phyla were found across the samples, with significant differences in phyla found at any given location. More of the Actinobacteria clones were found in the Hawaiian communities, while more Alphaproteobacteria clones were found in Azorean communities. The Actinobacteria displayed a considerable amount of novel diversity and several distinct novel clades in our phylogenic trees.

 

Colorful bacterial mats cover walls and ceilings of lava tubes worldwide, yet little is known about their composition or what controls their diversity. To address these issues, we ask 1) which bacterial species are found in the mats, 2) does species composition differ between differently colored mats, and 3) what phylogenetic differences do we see between Hawaiian and Azorean sites? White and yellow microbial mats samples were collected aseptically from four lava tubes from the Big Island of Hawaii and from the Azorean island of Terceira to compare and contrast the diversity found in lava tubes from different geographical regions of the world. The 16S gene was sequenced from each sample so we could compare the diversity in the each cave. We then used statistical programs to compare the environmental controls on microbial diversity by comparing community structure to environmental parameters such as precipitation, elevation, and geographic region. Scanning electron microscopy was done on samples and showed similarities and differences between both regions. The geographical locations of the caves seem to have been the major contributor
to differences in the community structures. Fifteen phyla were found across the samples, with significant differences in phyla found at any given location. More of the Actinobacteria clones were found in the Hawaiian communities, while more Alphaproteobacteria clones were found in Azorean communities. The Actinobacteria displayed a considerable amount of novel diversity and several distinct, novel clades in our phylogenic trees. These results are increasing our knowledge of what controls microbial diversity.

 

 

 

 

Bacterial mats cover walls and ceilings of lava tubes around the world, yet little is known about what controls their species diversity. To address this issue, I and others in my lab group, are asking the following questions: 1) Does diversity vary with respect to the different ages and elemental composition of lava flows in which the lava tubes occur? 2) What is the amount of organic carbon and nitrogen present in the drip water entering the cave system that can fuel heterotrophic microbial growth? To address these questions, rock and water samples were collected from three lava tubes in El Malpais National Monument (ELMA) in New Mexico and from six lava tubes on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Dissolved organic carbon, total nitrogen, and ammonia were measured in infiltrating water. Carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, manganese, sulfur, iron and other minor elements were analyzed from volcanic rock samples from each lava tube. These data are shedding light on how geological/geochemical parameters influence the diversity of the bacterial communities, which is poorly understood. Examining the different geologic constraints found at each site in New Mexico and Hawai’i will provide a better understanding of the effects these parameters have on bacterial communities found within lava tubes. In a general trend, the composition of the Hawaiian lava cave basalt shows significantly more of the following elements: calcium, magnesium, lead, phosphorus and zinc. Other elements such as cobalt, copper, iron, manganese and sulfur have similar values between Hawaiian and New Mexican lava caves. These results will help to elucidate the role of geology in shaping diversity within caves and the interplay between biology and geology.

Ali Ghadimi

20th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 1, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21st Annual Research Day

UNM Biology Department

March 30, 2012

Is Geomyces destructans Present in New Mexico Lava Caves? An Investigation of White Nose Syndrome (WNS) Potential in El Malpais National Monument.


Authors: Diana E. Northup, ALI GHADIMI, Jesse Young, Department of Biology, UNM, and Robert Bastik, El Malpais National Monument, Grants NM.

 

Microbiological Testing in El Malpais Caves for the Presence of Geomyces destructans, the Fungus Associated with White Nose Syndrome in Bats

.Jesse M. Young, Ali J. Ghadimi, Nicole A. Caimi, Kaitlyn J. Hughes, Diana E. Northup

WNS is a bat disease that has killed more than a million bats living in caves from the east coast to the western edge of Oklahoma. The disease is hypothesized to be caused by the fungus Geomyces destructans, which grows on the bat’s muzzle and disturbs them during hibernation, causing them wake up and either freeze or starve. Due to the important role that bats play in our ecosystem, it is critical that we monitor and try to prevent this disease from entering our bat populations here in New Mexico. To help achieve this goal, we tested soils from 10 lava tubes in the El Malpais National Monument (ELMA) using PCR techniques in order to determine if G. destructans is present in any of the caves at ELMA. We collected soil samples from several parts of caves in which bats were found using sterile tubes. The soil samples then were filled with sucrose lysis buffer to preserve the DNA until extraction. DNA was extracted from these soil samples using the MoBio Power Soil DNA Extraction Kit, and then amplified with Geomyces-specific primers with a positive control of G. destructans from an infected Midwestern bat. Eighteen samples have been tested to date and all have been negative for the presence of Geomyces destructans. Subsequent analyses will involve 454 sequencing of representative soil samples to look for the presence of any strains of Geomyces. Our results will provide important baseline information about the fungi present in these cold, western caves.

Nick Homziak

20th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 1, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21st Annual Research Day

UNM Biology Department

March 30, 2012

A Revision of the genus Heteranasssa Smith (Lepidoptera, Erebidae; Catocalinae).


Authors: NICHOLAS HOMZIAK, Undergraduate Opportunties (UnO) Program, Museum of  Southwestern Biology, Department of Biology, UNM.

Revision of the Genus Heteranasssa Smith, (Lepidoptera, Erebidae; Erebinae)

Nicholas Homziak and Kelly Miller

Heteranassa (Smith) is a genus of moths native to the deserts of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Currently, there are two recognized species in the genus, with one recent synonymy. I reviewed the literature related to this group, examined museum specimens of Heteranassa, including type material. This allowed me to study and clarify the relationships between the species of Heteranassa. A review of the natural history of the group also will be provided.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heteranassa (Smith) is a variable genus of moths native to the warmer desert regions of the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico. Identifying species in this genus is especially challenging due to poor characters and vague original descriptions. As this genus is widespread and frequently encountered, clarifying the relationships among the species in this genus is especially important. This project aims to provide a review of the literature associated with this genus, provide the first detailed descriptions of larval and adult morphology, and provide the first revision of the genus. All literature related to Heteranassa has been reviewed. I am currently examining and documenting internal and external morphology from specimens throughout the range of the genus. Additionally, I will rear Heteranassa from eggs to adulthood, and provide additional detailed information about their natural history. A photograph of the type specimen for the genus has been taken, and other type material associated with the genus will be examined.  This will allow me to assess and document the variation among Heteranassa, which will allow me to determine the number of species in the genus.

Jessica Martin

American Society of Mammalogists 2009 Meeting

June 24, 2009

94th ESA Annual Meeting

2-7 August 2009

IMSD/MARC Symposium at UNM

August 13, 2009

UNM Biology Research Day

April 10, 2009

19th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 2, 2010

 

2009 International Biogeography Society Meeting

January 8-12, 2009

Poster

You are what you eat: the key role of mesquite in promoting survival in an extreme environment

Authors: : Martin, JT, Smith, FA, Lease, HM, Murray, IW, and Harding, LE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not in my backyard: geographic patterns of environmentalism in the U.S.

 

Death Valley, California, is one of the hottest, driest places in the western hemisphere. Summer daytime temperatures are regularly over 50°C, and rainfall averages less than 5 cm a year. This extreme environment is home to a thriving population of Desert Woodrats (Neotoma lepida). Unlike other populations of N. lepida, the Death Valley population is completely dependent on a single species of plant, Honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), for survival. Mesquite is the sole source of thermal protection, protection from predators, water, and food. Members of the Smith lab have trapped woodrats in Death Valley since 2004 and found that there are significant differences in persistence (a proxy for fitness) across our study site. Here, I analyze several characteristics of the mesquite plants that might contribute to the differences in fitness we observed: spinyness, overall size, nitrogen content, fiber, water content, and phenolics. We found that there is substantial heterogeneity in persistence across our study site by mesquite clump, indicating that mesquite is important in affecting persistence. Thus far, we found no relationship between persistence and mesquite clump size or water content. We found a positive relationship between spine density and persistence, which suggests that spinier mesquite plants are able to better protect rats from predators. We also found a positive relationship between winter fiber content and persistence. This research contributes to our understanding of the ecology of N.lepida living in an extreme environment, as well as our general understanding of how organisms adapt and interact in extreme environments.

 

 

 

How do geographic, cultural, economic, and social factors interact to influence human behavior? More specifically, which factors determine how much value people place on the environment and influence them to the extent that they are willing to donate to conservation organizations? It has been argued that examining economic behavior is an accurate way to investigate individuals’ values. Here, I used state-level data of donations to conservation organizations as a proxy for the value people place on environmental protection across the USA. I then chose several factors that I felt might influence donations—income, education level, political climate, population density, and housing unit density—and analyzed these factors in a geographic context. Data were derived from the U.S. Census Bureau. I used Pearson’s r correlations and a Pearson Chi-squared test to analyze the data. My results suggest that both medium income and education level were significantly and positively correlated with the amount donated. Political climate was related to donations, with Democratic (liberal) states having significantly higher donations than Republican (conservative) states. Population density was not significantly correlated with donations, while housing unit density was significantly and negatively correlated with donations, suggesting that urbanization may influence donations. My findings clearly indicate that there is a relationship between geography and environmentalism in the USA. Further examination of individual values and donation level would lead to a better understanding of the factors that contribute to how much value people place on the environment.

Diego Matek

2011 Biomedical Research Symposium; Albuquerque, NM

August 12, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

21st Annual Research Day

UNM Biology Department

March 30, 2012

Coevolution between Neotamias and their associated parasites

 

Authors: Diego Matek and Kayce Bell

What Makes Them Suck? Testing the Influence of Abiotic Factors on Sucking Lice

Diego Matek and Kayce Bell

The interest of evolutionary biologists has been piqued by the phenomenon of Coevolution, specifically, host-parasite dynamics. Host-parasite relationships are the result of reciprocal selective pressures causing adaptations, most famously known as the “evolutionary arms race” which has been well-established between humans and some of their parasites (malaria and AIDS). In this study we examine infection of different species of chipmunks with two different species of sucking lice; Hoplopleura arboricola and Neohaematopinus pacificus. Since speciation of hosts should coincide with differential among parasites, we may expect a large degree of coevolution among chipmunk species and their parasites. The premise of our experimentation is to first identify infection of chipmunks, and eventually, determine and compare phylogenetic relationships of these hosts and parasites by sequencing and comparing the DNA within each taxonomic group. Knowledge of host-parasite relationships becomes particularly significant in consideration of interspecific interactions and dynamics of evolutionary diversification, additionally, lice have agricultural and human health impact. However, before advancements in areas such as medical treatments can be made, the drivers of coevolutionary relationships must be identified.

 

 

 

Environmental constraints dictate the distribution of free-living organisms and may also determine patterns of endemism for parasite and parasite-vectored disease. In light of contemporary climate change, where ambient conditions and associated ecosystems are rapidly shifting, it is critical to assess how environmental conditions might shape the distribution and dynamics of host/parasite relationships. We examine the ranges of two ectoparasitic species of sucking lice (Neohaematopinus pacificus and Hoplopleura arboricola) across their chipmunk hosts (genus Tamias) in western North America. By analyzing the host and geographic ranges of parasites, infer whether or not temperature and humidity play roles in parasite infection rates and will test for co-divergence. If the sucking lice are temperature or humidity sensitive, then their distribution patterns should match tightly with areas of tolerable temperature or humidity. We recovered lice from 17 species of chipmunk, utilizing recently collected and archived museum specimens to investigate the host, geographic, and climate ranges of both species of sucking lice.  Determining the possible responses of free-living animals and parasites to climate change requires investigation of their coevolutionary history of a species and their environmental limitations.

Randle McCain

UNM Wolf Fest,

March 23, 2012

Albuquerque, NM

 

 

 

 

 

 

21st Annual Research Day

UNM Biology Department

March 30, 2012

 

Archival observatory for the endangered Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)

Randle D McCain, Jason L Malaney, Jon L Dunnum, Adrienne L Raniszewski, and Joseph A Cook

 

Steven (Kevin) McCormick

21st Annual Research Day

UNM Biology Department

March 30, 2012

A Comparative Analysis of Olfactory Recognition in Pupfish (Cyprinodon)

S. Kevin McCormick and Astrid Kodric-Brown

Nearly all vertebrates maintain an olfactory recognition system to evaluate their mates, find food and detect predators. This allows an individual to accurately assess another individual or resource. Previous work has shown that when species evolve together within the same geographic range they develop the ability to recognize conspecific odors. Due to relaxed selection, species that have not evolved together should not show this ability. I predicted that females of four allopatric Cyprinodon species would not discriminate between conspecific and heterospecific males. Females were tested for olfactory recognition of males using a binary choice design. Analyses of data have shown that they do not use olfactory cues alone to recognize conspecifics. In contrast Cyprinodon which have evolved in sympatry show olfactory discrimination abilities. This suggests that allopatrically isolated species within this genus did not evolve a mate choice olfactory recognition system, and as such may be under threat of hybridizing with closely related species upon secondary contact.  

Adeline Murthy

21st Annual Research Day

UNM Biology Department

March 30, 2012

Effects of Urbanization on U.S. Bird Populations

Adeline Murthy and Trevor Fristoe

The United States has experienced widespread population growth and urbanization since the turn of the 20th century.  Little research has been done to show how this has affected the dynamics of bird populations.  Urbanization has resulted in a large scale alteration of natural habitats, making them more sparse and fragmented. However, urbanized areas also provide certain bird species with a constant energy source that had previously not been available, allowing species to feed and survive even during harsh winter seasons. In this study, we used data on species composition and relative abundance from the Christmas Bird Count to analyze how urbanization has altered community structure and diversity of bird populations over a 60 year time period. We expect to see a reduction in diversity as well as an increase in abundance of non-native species.

Abigail R. Ortiz

2011 Biomedical Research Symposium; Albuquerque, NM

August 12, 2011

Invasion of the body snatchers: testing patterns of divergence in endoparasites

 

Authors: Abigail R. Ortiz, Christopher M. Himes, and Joseph A. Cook

The intimate interaction between a host and parasite in wild populations are yet to be extensively studied. Coevolution can explain coadaptations between species, since the species exert some form of selevtive pressures on each other impacting their evolution (Ridley, 1996). Gradual speciation can occur by allopatric, parapatric, and sympatric speciation. Pinpointing which speciation model flatworm, Arostrilepis, uses can explain the population, or species, mechanisms of divergence. My research will delve into the relationship among the endoparasitic flatworms of seven rodent species from around the world, including if parasites in separate localities and separate species are diverging. The mitochondrial gene cyochrome c oxidase I (COX1) of Arostrilepis will be used for this experiment. Each individual’s gene sequence will be compared to note genetic changes, when they occurred, and their phylogenetic relationship to one another.

Matthew Peralta

 

MARC/IMSD research symposium

UNM SUB

August 10th, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dessert Fishes Council (DFC)

Moab, Utah

Nov 17, 2010 - Nov 20, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

20th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 1, 2011

The biological control of mosquito larvae populations using larvivorous fish; An eco-friendly approach

 

Influences of Habitat and Predatory Fish on Mosquito Abundance in a Mesocosm Experiment.


Authors: MATTHEW F. PERALTA, Ayesha S. Burdett, Corey A. Love and Thomas F. Turner, Department of Biology and Museum of Southwestern Biology, UNM.

The Rio Grande in New Mexico is an arid land system that is subject to a variety of conditions seasonally. Conditions that persist during the summer are often extreme and inhospitable to many aquatic invertebrates. During these conditions, severe dry downs occur that form isolated pools that provide optimal conditions for mosquito larvae (Family: Culicidae). This may have serious implications for human health, since it is known that mosquitoes are disease vectors for the West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses. Several recent studies suggest that fish can provide an ecosystem service by acting as a biological control to suppress mosquito populations (Louca et al. 2009, Seng et al 2009). The presence of fish may provide a critical ecosystem service to human health. In this study, we plan to use data from a mesocosm study in 2009 to evaluate abiotic and biotic factors which may influence the presence and abundance of larval mosquito populations. Our study will provide insight into the role of fish as top-down controllers of mosquito populations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer drydown conditions in the Rio Grande, New Mexico often provides optimal habitat for breeding mosquitoes (Family: Culicidae). Previous studies indicate that female mosquitoes preferentially oviposit in nutrient rich habitats and that fish can act as biological control of mosquito larvae. This may have serious implications for human health, since mosquitoes are known as disease vectors of West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses. Our research investigates the role of habitat in mosquito larvae abundance, as well as fish as top-down controllers of mosquito populations. We used data from a 2009 mesocosm study to evaluate the influence of leaf litter
and fish on the abundance of mosquito larvae populations. Leaf litter tanks had higher mosquito abundance than tanks without leaf litter, suggesting mosquitoes preferentially oviposit in those tanks. The presence of fish significantly reduced the abundance of mosquito larvae (ANOVA: p = 0.031), and gut content analysis revealed that fish consumed mosquitoes in proportion to their abundance. Furthermore, a stable isotope analysis indicated that mosquito larvae utilized leaf litter as a primary energy source and that fish potentially consumed these mosquito larvae. This suggests that the presence of larval and juvenile fishes potentially reduces mosquito-borne illnesses indirectly, thus providing an ecosystem service to human health.

Justin Pichardo

UNM Biology Research Day

April 10, 2009

Poster

 

19th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 2, 2010

Life On the Outside; elucidating the genetic signatures of core and peripheral populations of the montane vole, Microtus montanus.

 

 

 

Emergence and activity patterns of desert box turtles, Terrapene ornata luteola

Authors: Justin Pichardo, Ian W. Murray, and Blair O. Wolf

 

 

 

 

 

We report on the behavior and activity patterns of desert box turtles on and near the Sevilleta NWR. We used miniature temperature data-loggers epoxied to the shells of turtles in order to infer daily time of emergence and duration of activity periods. We examine turtle activity in a grazed versus un-grazed desert grassland, and look at how precipitation and temperature influence turtle activity.

Hallie S. Rane

Molecular Biology and Evolution

4 February 2010

 

19th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 2, 2010

 

Evolutionary Biology of Caenorhabditis and Other Nematodes

Hinxton, Cambridge, UK

June 2010

Gene conversion and DNA sequence polymorphism in the sex-determination gene fog-2 and its paralog ftr-1 in Caenorhabditis elegans

Authors: Hallie S. Rane, Jessica M. Smith, Ulfar Bergthorsson and Vaishali Katju

Gene conversion, a form of concerted evolution, bears enormous potential to shape the trajectory of sequence and functional divergence of gene paralogs subsequent to duplication events. fog-2 , a sex-determination gene unique to Caenorhabditis elegans and implicated in the origin of hermaphroditism in this species, resulted from the duplication of ftr-1, an upstream gene of unknown function. Synonymous sequence divergence in regions of fog-2 and ftr-1 (excluding recent gene conversion tracts) suggests that the duplication occurred 46 million generations ago. Gene conversion between fog-2 and ftr-1 was previously discovered in experimental fog-2 knockout lines of C. elegans, whereby hermaphroditism was restored in mutant obligately-outcrossing male-female populations. We analyzed DNA sequence variation in fog-2 and ftr-1 within 40 isolates of C. elegans from diverse geographic locations in order to evaluate the contribution of gene conversion to genetic variation in the two gene paralogs. The analysis shows that gene conversion contributes significantly to DNA sequence diversity in fog-2 and ftr-1 (22% and 34%, respectively) and may have the potential to alter sexual phenotypes in natural populations. A radical amino acid change in a conserved region of the F-box domain of fog-2 was found in natural isolates of C. elegans with significantly lower fecundity. We hypothesize that the lowered fecundity is due to reduced masculinization and less sperm production, and that amino acid replacement substitutions and gene conversion in fog-2 may contribute significantly to variation in the degree of inbreeding and outcrossing in natural populations.

Abbie Reade

21st Annual Research Day

UNM Biology Department

March 30, 2012

 

 

Human Behavioral Evolution Society and the Animal Behavior Society Joint Conference, Albuquerque, NM. 2012.

Differences in Body Shape in a Sympatric Flock of Pupfish

Abbie J. Reade, Rhiannon J.D. West and Astrid Kodric-Brown

 

A series of saline lakes on San Salvador Island, The Bahamas, is home to a sympatric flock of pupfish (Cyprinodon spp.). The flock, though recently diverged in geological time, display widely different life histories; one is a detritivore, one is a snail-eater, and the last is a scale-eater, which preys upon the other two. We used geometric morphometrics to examine variation in body shape among these three species. Results show that there are significant differences in male body shape between the scale-eaters, snail-eaters, and detritivores. This raises questions about the role of female choice in maintaining species identity in this sympatric flock.

 

Ashley Reid

UNM Biology Research Day

April 10, 2009

Poster

Examing the Relative Abundance of Thermal Spring Community Members Using Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction

The greater Yellowstone ecosystem comprises the large stand most varied geothermal basin in the world. It boasts thousands of hot springs that are inhabited by thermophilic microorganisms, many of which represent the deepest lineages of life on Earth. We have conducted a microbial inventory of 100 springs in Yellowstone that has revealed previously unrecognized patterns of distribution. For example, we found that two genera of the Aquificales, Thermocrinis and Sulfurihydrogenibium, co-occur in some springs, whereas they previously were reported to have mutually exclusive distributions.This misconception may have arisen owing to an artifact of conventional PCR bias using universal primers. Here, we investigate the co-occurrence of Thermocrinis and Sulfurihydrogenibium using quantitative PCR (qPCR) in forty-eight sites using genus-specific probes. The relative abundance of the two populations will be determined, compared and analyzed with respect to in situ geochemical variations. The co-occurrence of Thermocrinis and Sulfurihydrogenibium is particularly interesting because if found together a potential syntrophic relationship may exist as these two genera share complimentary mechanisms of carbon fixation and energy
generation.

Jackson Sabol

21st Annual Research Day

UNM Biology Department

March 30, 2012

Pathogen Load and the Extreme Male Brain Theory of Autism

Jackson Sabol, Kenneth Letendre, and Randy Thornhill

The Extreme Male Brain Theory of Autism posits that excess exposure to testosterone in the womb leads to a patient's development of autism. While previous research focused on genetic factors in the development of autism, recent research implicates an effect of the maternal-fetal environment and intrauterine hormone levels that lead to the development of the syndrome. We propose that a mother's condition partially determines the levels of intrauterine testosterone to which a fetus is exposed, such that better maternal condition allows for greater allocation of testosterone. We hypothesize that throughout evolutionary history, maternal condition has been negatively impacted by infectious disease, and that recent alleviation of disease load in humans in modern societies has led to mothers' greater ability to allocate testosterone to her fetus. This increased expression of fetal testosterone reaches excessive and maladaptive levels for the fetus, and can ultimately lead to autism. We seek to conduct an internet study where participants are asked to fill out questionnaires on Perceived Vulnerability to Disease (PVD; a measure of individual immunocompetency), 2D:4D ratio (ratio of the length of the 2nd to 4th finger, an indirect measure of participants' fetal testosterone levels) and the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ; a measure of manifested autistic traits). Participants would also be asked to have their mothers, if available, fill out the PVD questionnaire to be compared with participants' scores. We predict a positive relationship between mothers' PVD and participants' 2D:4D ratio, and a negative relationship between mothers' PVD and participants' AQ.

Ashely Smiley

20th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 1, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AOU Meeting
24-29 July 2011
Jacksonville, FL
Sponsored by: The University of Florida

 

 

 

 

 

 

21st Annual Research Day

UNM Biology Department

March 30, 2012

Cardiac Morphology in High-altitude Birds


Authors: ASHLEY SMILEY, Department of Biology, UNM

 

Cardiac morphology as an indicator of hypoxic stress in high-

Andean birds

Authors: A. Smiley, G. Williams, N. A. Wright, and C. C. Witt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assessing Hypoxic Stress in High Andean Birds Based on Right Ventricular Morphology

A. Smiley, G. Williams, N.A. Wright and C.C. Witt

Investigating cardiac morphology within populations of Andean birds that span high and low elevations gives insight into the physiological changes that occur as a result of high-altitude hypoxia. Troglodytes aedon (House Wrens) and Zonotrichia capensis (Rufous-collared Sparrow) are two species of songbird that are ubiquitous at all elevations of the Andes mountains of Peru. Through the use of microscopy, we analyzed the nuclear density of the left-, right-, and inter-ventricular areas of the heart from fifteen individuals at various elevations. We predict that hypoxic environments result in chronic pulmonary vasoconstriction as well as hypertension in populations that live at high altitudes. Species that inhabit high-altitudes experience hypertrophy in the right ventricle of the heart in order to compensate for low blood-O2 saturation. As a result, cardiac myocytes in the right ventricle enlarge and overall nuclear density decreases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few species of birds such as the House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) and Rufous-
collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis) span the entire elevational gradient of the
Andes, providing unparalleled opportunities to study physiological traits associated with
high-altitude hypoxia. Low-altitude mammals exposed to hypoxia exhibit pulmonary
hypertension that causes right-ventricular hypertrophy, but it is unknown whether
birds employ the same compensatory response. We tested whether high-altitude
populations of widespread Andean bird species exhibit enlarged right ventricles that
would suggest chronic pulmonary hypertension. We found strong evidence of right-
ventricular enlargement in high-altitude House Wrens, indicating that House Wren
populations in the high Andes may not be optimally adapted to ambient hypoxia. We
counted myocyte nuclear density in the ventricular walls and intra-ventricular septa to
test whether enlargement of the right ventricle represents genetic adaptation or a plastic
developmental response to hypoxic stress. The combined ventricular size and nuclear
density results reveal evidence of species-specific patterns of high-altitude adaptation that
likely reflect unique biogeographic histories.

 

 

Birds that span the entire elevational gradient of the Andes provide unparalleled opportunities to study physiological traits associated with high-altitude hypoxia. The House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) and the Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis) are two passerine species that occur at variable elevations in the Peruvian Andes. Exposure to hypoxia has led to pulmonary hypertension in low-altitude mammals followed directly by right-ventricular hypertrophy. However, it is unknown whether birds employ the same compensatory response. We tested whether high-altitude populations of widespread Andean bird species exhibit enlarged right ventricles that would suggest chronic pulmonary hypertension. We found morphological evidence of right-ventricular enlargement in high-altitude House Wrens, indicating that House Wren populations in the high Andes may not be optimally adapted to ambient hypoxia. We counted myocyte nuclear density in the ventricular walls and intra-ventricular septa to test if enlargement of the right ventricle is due to an increase in the size of individual nuclei or a difference in the overall amount of nuclei. The presence or absence of enlargement represents either genetic adaptation or a plastic developmental response to hypoxic stress. The combined ventricular size and nuclear density results indicate species-specific patterns of high-altitude adaptation that likely reflect unique biogeographic histories.

Kelly Speer

Ecological Society of America

August 6, 2009

IIMSD/MARC Symposium at UNM

August 13, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

19th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 2, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21st Annual Research Day

UNM Biology Department

March 30, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Society of Mammalogists, Reno, NV. 2012.

Genetic evidence for persistence of a relict population of shrews in New Mexico.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A relict population of shrews in New Mexico illustrates spatiotemporal diversification in response to environmental change

Authors: Kelly A Speer, Andrew G Hope, Joseph A Cook

 

 

Clarifying the Diversity of Mountain Voles (Genus Alticola) in Mongolia

Kelly Speer, Brooks Kohli and Joseph Cook

Clarifying the diversity of Mountain Voles (genus Alticola) in Mongolia

Kelly A. Speer, Brooks A. Kohli, Nyamsuren Batsaikhan, Darmaa Damdinbaza, and Joseph A. Cook

Shrews (genus: Sorex), among the smallest mammals, have high metabolic rates, short generation time, and high mutation rates. Patterns of genetic differentiation provide insight into biogeographic structure and the response of organisms to environmental change, so the rapidly evolving shrew is an excellent model for interpreting fine scale response of vertebrates to environmental change. Population and community structure have been dynamic since the last glacial maximum (LGM), often following a latitudinal shift in response to changing climate. However, sometimes populations become isolated in discreet areas due to elevational shifts in response to changing climate and these organisms are now found in disjunct “sky island” refugia. Molecular signatures for these disjunct populations reflect their demographic history. Signatures of shrews occurring in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico were explored and revealed that individuals thought previously to be Sorex cinereus (occurring in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains) are actually a close relative, S. haydeni. Sorex haydeni is a mesic grassland species of the central Great Plains whereas habitat in the Jemez Mountains is semi-arid to mesic coniferous forest and montane meadows. We investigate phylogeographic structure across these species to understand their history. We test competing hypotheses that this population is either a relict from cooler climates of LGM versus a more contemporary colonization event. Mitochondrial DNA sequences were obtained through standard laboratory procedures and phylogeographic and population genetic parameters were generated.

 

 

Patterns of genetic differentiation provide insight into biogeographic structure. Rapidly evolving shrews, among the smallest mammals, are excellent models for interpreting fine scale response to environmental change. Community structure has been dynamic through space and time. Sometimes populations become isolated due to elevational shifts into disjunct “sky island” refugia. Molecular signatures for disjunct populations reflect their demographic history. Shrews occurring in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico, thought previously to be Sorex cinereus (occurring in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains) are actually genetically closely related to S. haydeni. Sorex haydeni is a mesic grassland species of the central Great Plains whereas habitat in the Jemez Mountains is mesic coniferous forest. We investigate phylogeographic structure across these species to understand their history. We test competing hypotheses that southern populations are either relicts from cooler climates of the Last Glacial Maximum or more contemporary colonizers. Mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences were used for phylogeographic and population genetic analyses. Sorex cinereus and S. haydeni tested from New Mexico resulted in two discreet populations although with potential contact in southern Colorado. Congruence among genetic loci suggests that no hybridization has occurred. Genetic signatures of both species are consistent with persistence in New Mexico although lower genetic diversity in the Jemez Mountains also indicates limited population size. Sorex haydeni from the Jemez Mountains represent a distinct evolutionary clade due to isolation from populations further north. Our findings have conservation implications for peripheral populations and increase our understanding of how species respond to environmental change.

 

Phylogenetic research has been fruitful in characterizing mammalian diversity, but the systematics of the genus Alticola remains unresolved. Voles of this genus are distributed throughout most of central and northern Asia. The dynamic geologic and glacial history of the region likely stimulated diversification within terrestrial organisms and has perhaps generated cryptic diversity among isolated populations within species. Previous molecular studies of Alticola included few individuals representing a limited set of localities. Those studies highlighted confusion surrounding relationships between species of Alticola and Myodes, but those studies are based only on mitochondrial genes. An examination of potential inter- and intraspecific diversity is necessary to clarify previous findings and provide a more complete foundation for future studies of these widespread rodents in Central Asia. Using GenBank records and recently collected samples from Mongolia, we assessed phylogenetic relationships of six species of Alticola using mtDNA (cytochrome b) for 80 individuals from 26 localities and 2 nuclear loci in 17 individuals across central and eastern Asia. To address possible paraphyly, we included four Asian species of Myodes. Bayesian phylogenetic analysis recovered monophyletic species groupings with low levels of variation observed within species. We found no significant cryptic diversity, suggesting isolation in mountains ranges has been minimal.

 

 

 

 

Phylogenetic research has been fruitful in characterizing mammalian diversity, but systematics
of species of the genus Alticola remains unresolved. Voles of this genus are distributed
throughout most of central and northern Asia. The dynamic geologic and glacial history
of the region likely stimulated diversification within terrestrial organisms and has perhaps
generated cryptic diversity within species, especially among montane species isolated in
mountain ranges found in the Gobi Desert. Previous molecular studies of Alticola included
few individuals representing a limited set of localities. Those studies highlighted confusion
surrounding relationships between species of Alticola and Clethrionomys, but were based
only on mitochondrial genes. An examination of potential inter- and intraspecific diversity is
necessary to clarify previous findings and provide a more complete foundation for future studies
of these widespread rodents in central Asia. Using GenBank records and recently collected
samples from Mongolia, we assessed phylogenetic relationships of six species of Alticola using
mtDNA (cytochrome b) for 80 individuals from 26 localities and 2 nuclear loci in 17 individuals
across central and eastern Asia. To address possible paraphyly, we included four Asian species
of Clethrionomys. Bayesian phylogenetic analysis recovered monophyletic species groupings
with low levels of variation observed within species. In contrast to montane situations of the arid
NorthAmerican Southwest, we found no significant cryptic diversity, suggesting isolation in
mountains ranges in the Gobi has been minimal.

Elizabeth (Lizzy) Stone

21st Annual Research Day

UNM Biology Department

March 30, 2012

Comparison of Symbiodinium Communities Within Marginopora vertebralis, Substrates and the Surrounding Water

Elizabeth Stone, Ursula Shepherd, and Justine Garcia

Foraminiferans are an integral part of reef systems. Like hard corals, they form calcium

carbonate structures that are important in formation of reef substrate. Marginopora vertebralis is a large, soritid foraminiferan that relies on an endosymbiotic relationship with the dinoflagellate algae, Symbiodinium. While we know that M. vertebralis can house multiple Symbiodinium types, it is not clear from where the Symbiodinium is acquired. In this study, we are examining how Symbiodinium communities in M. vertebralis differ from those in the surrounding habitat (i.e., in the substrate and the

surrounding water column.) We used pyrosequencing to identify the clades present in the foraminifera and their surroundings. To date we have found clades A,C, D, F, and H present in our study, and also that the communities in the foraminiferans are similar to, but not direct subsets of those found in the growth substrates. We have not yet completed the water samples. We will analyze these same communities using quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction and hope to gain a more quantitative valuation of the similarities and differences in these communities. This research has important implications for our understanding about how this foraminiferan acquires and maintains its symbionts, and may aid our understanding of ecosystem processes in reefs worldwide.

Angelica Swanson

2011 Biomedical Research Symposium; Albuquerque, NM

August 12, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21st Annual Research Day

UNM Biology Department

March 30, 2012

Environmental factors and the evolution of freeze tolerance in frogs

 

Authors: Angelica Swanson and Jolene Rearick

 

 

 

Niche Space and Freezing Tolerance in Hylidae

Angelica Swanson and Jolene Rearick

The ability to survive freezing has evolved in six species of frogs (Pseudacris crucifer, Ps. Maculate, Lithobates sylvaticus, Rana arvalis, Hyla chrysoscelis and H. versicolor). These species can withstand temperatures down to -4oC for extended periods of time in the relatively stable microclimate of overwintering sites. In addition, several frog species are partially freeze tolerant (Acris crepitans, Ps. Regilla, L. pipiens, Pelophylax ridibundus, Pe. Lessonae, R. dalmatina, R. temporaria), and able to survive short freezing events. Here we will examine the evolution of complete and partial freeze tolerance in fifteen taxa from the North American genus Pseudacris (Family: Hylidae) in the context of ecological niche characteristics. We will test for correlations between the precipitation and temperature within a species distributions and the ability to endure partial or complete freezing. To address this hypothesis we will build a set of phylogenetic trees and test trait correlations between freeze tolerance and characteristics of the species’ habitats across the entire set of trees. We will quantify habitat traits from environmental data layers and species distributions. From preliminary analyses we predict we will find a correlation between ecological and physiological traits, due to the insulating factors that heavy snow cover provides the necessity for freezing in some select regions. Understanding how freeze tolerance has evolved in relation to environmental conditions could have important implications in studies of speciation, complex trait evolution, novel trait evolution, predictions of species invasiveness under changing environmental conditions, and long-term, low temperature preservation of tissues.

 

 

Of the twenty-one species of frogs with known freezing tolerances, sixteen species of frogs are known to be partially or completely freeze tolerant (able to survive freezing of extracellular fluids though sub-zero temperatures in winter). We examined the evolution of complete and partial freeze tolerance in 53 taxa, both with known and unknown freezing capabilities, from the North American family Hylidae in the context of ecological niche characteristics. To estimate when and how many times freeze tolerance is likely to have evolved in this group, we performed ancestral trait reconstruction analyses. Correlation between freeze tolerance and ecological parameters both with and without accounting for phylogenetic covariance were examined. We also investigated parameters to describe how freeze tolerance evolves across the phylogenetic tree to aid in understanding the phylogenetic association of the trait, tempo, and timing of trait evolution. Understanding how freeze tolerance has evolved in relation to environmental conditions could have important implications in studies of speciation, complex trait evolution, novel trait evolution, prediction of species distribution alterations under changing environmental conditions, and long-term, low temperature preservation of tissues.

April Tafoya

UNM Undergraduate Research Symposium

April 7, 2009

Poster

Phylogenetic analysis of the genus Hygrotus (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae).

Authors: April J. Tafoya , Eugenio H. Nearns, Kelly B. Miller, Ian P. Swift, Traci L. Grzymala

A molecular phylogenetic study of longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae) was undertaken. Fifty species were sequenced representing seven subfamilies and 35 tribes. Sequences were generated from the following genes: 12S rRNA, 16S rRNA, 28S rRNA, and histone 3. Parsimony and Bayesian analyses were performed. Relationships among subfamilies are explored.

Sophia Thompson

20th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 1, 2011

Microtus longicaudus and the Theory of Island Biogeography.


Authors: SOPHIA THOMPSON and Yadéeh E. Sawyer, Department of Biology and the Museum of Southwestern Biology, UNM

Understanding the mechanisms behind evolutionary processes is more important than ever, given the current rate of global climate change. This information can be used to identify geographic regions where endemism is most likely to occur to aid in conservation in light of habitat alteration. Islands provide researchers great natural laboratories to investigate evolutionary processes. The Theory of Island Biogeography suggests islands, due to their separation from the mainland, can create conditions necessary for divergence and ultimately speciation. Thus, the further islands are from mainland source populations, the more differentiated the island populations should be from mainland relatives. Several studies investigating island biogeography have found positive correlations between increased island size and increased genetic diversity and a negative relationship between increased island isolation and genetic diversity. To date, there has been little focus on high latitude island systems where the complex glacial history of northern regions also may contribute to the processes shaping genetic patterns, particularly with regard to identifying source populations. For my research project I asked: What are the processes of diversification in island systems located at high latitudes? I aimed to answer this question by analyzing genetic diversity across regions of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene for individuals of Microtus longicaudus (longtailed vole) living on 14 islands across the Alexander Archipelago of Southeast Alaska. Preliminary findings suggest that area and isolation had less of an effect on current genetic structure than previously unidentified refugial areas adjacent to glacial ice cover.

Jesse Trujillo

19th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 2, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

SACNAS; Anaheim, CA
Sept. 30, 2010 - Oct. 3, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dessert Fishes Council (DFC)

Moab, Utah

Nov 17, 2010 - Nov 20, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 1, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21st Annual Research Day

UNM Biology Department

March 30, 2012

Preliminary report on the genetics of spikedace, Meda fulgida

Authors: Trujillo, J., Pilger, T., and Turner, T.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Microsattelite Analysis Of Spikedace, Meda Fulgida, In The Gila River

 

 

Measure of Genetic Variability of Meda fulgida Based on Frequencies

Authors: JESSE D. TRUJILLO, Tyler J. Pilger, Department of Biology, UNM, and Thomas F. Turner, Department of Biology, and Museum of Southwestern Biology, UNM

 

 

 

Development of Microsatellite Markers for Longfin Dace, Agosia chrysogaster

Jesse D. Trujillo, Tyler J. Pilger, Marlis R. Douglas, Thomas F. Turner

Meda fulgida is a species of fish endemic to the Gila River, a tributary of the Colorado River. Meda fulgida was listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a threatened species in 1986 after being extirpated from several rivers in New Mexico and Arizona. The purpose of this study is to use microsatellite loci to determine metapopulation structure and estimate levels of genetic variability with in the population. Twelve cross-specific primer sets (developed for Plagopterus argentissimus a sister species of M. fulgida) will be screened for loci amplification. Preliminary screening of primer sets ParB68, ParC46TR, ParB5T, and ParC55BR have been successful in determining several alleles for genotyping and statistical analysis. Microsatellite allele frequencies, genotype frequencies, variability of hetero and homozygosities will be calculated and each study site will be tested for departure from the Hardy-Weinburg equilibrium to determine the level of gene flow within the metapopulation. This genetic information will be used to determine the degree of detrimental effects habitat fragmentation will have upon the species in relation to a proposed water developmet.

 

Meda fulgida is a species of fish now endemic to the Gila River, a tributary of the Colorado River. Meda fulgida was listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a threatened species in 1986 after being extirpated from several rivers in New Mexico and Arizona. This studies purpose is to use microsatellite loci to determine metapopulation structure and estimate levels of genetic variability with in the population. Fin clips were collected from three locations within a 90 Km streach of river. Twelve cross-specific primer sets (developed for Plagopterus argentissimus a sister species of M. fulgida) are being screened for loci amplification. We identified 13 alleles at loci ParB68 and 23 alleles at loci ParB5t. Alleles ranged from 294 to 346 base pairs for ParB68 and 153 to 275 base pairs for ParB5t and were similar across sites. Except for locus ParB68 at Bird Area and Riverside, both loci conformed to Hardy- Weinberg expectations. Observed heterozygosity is less than expected for Riverside and Bird Area by approximately 0.1 and were approximately equal for Heart Bar site. The two loci we observed are for the first set of primers ParB5T and ParB68 and we observed a higher average mean allelic richness within the lower two sites, which these sites have more genetic diversity. Geographic distance appears to have a role in genetic divergence between the lower reach and the upper reach. These results are from two loci we have examined. We will continue to investigate the use of six other loci.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meda fulgida is a species of native fish now endemic to the Gila River in New Mexico, a tributary of the Colorado River. M. fulgida was listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a threatened species in 1986 after being extirpated from several rivers in New Mexico and Arizona. This study’s purpose was to use microsatellite loci to determine population substructure and estimate levels of genetic variability. Nine cross-specific primer sets (developed for Plagopterus argentissimus, a sister species of M. fulgida) were screened for optimal loci amplification. Eight primer sets were found to be variable and have been successful for genotyping. Microsatellite analyses show allelic richness to range from 10.73 to 15.20 and suggest that the sites in the lower reaches of the Gila River have greater genetic diversity. All loci in each population sample are consistent with Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium. Pairwise Fst values were significant for the upper reach sites, suggesting that the upper sites are genetically divergent from the lower two sites, but not significant for the lower sites. Geographic distance and possible habitat fragmentation may play a role in the level of genetic divergence between the three populations. This genetic information will be used to determine the degree of detrimental effects habitat fragmentation will have upon the species in relation to proposed water development.

 

MJ Vargas

19th Annual Research Day UNM Biology Department April 2, 2010

MARC/IMSD research symposium

UNM SUB

August 10th, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SACNAS; Anaheim, CA
Sept. 30, 2010 - Oct. 3, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2011 Biomedical Research Symposium; Albuquerque, NM

August 12, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21st Annual Research Day

UNM Biology Department

March 30, 2012

Antibiotic Producing Bacteria in Lava Tube Caves in El Malpais National Monument, NM

Authors: Vargas, M.J., Henderson, L., Snider, J.R. and Northup, D.E.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharing science: a study on the effects of informal science education outreach with elementary students

Authors: MJ Vargas, Diane Marshall and Teresa E. Sheldahl

Sharing Science: A Study on the Effects of Informal Science Education Outreach with Elementary Students

Martha Jo Vargas, Diane L. Marshall, Department of Biology, and Teresa E. Sheldahl

Increasing antibiotic resistance has led to a great need for new antibiotics to which microorganisms are not yet resistant. Actinobacteria, the most prolific group in antibiotic production, are found in substantial populations in cave environments. The purpose of this study is to investigate biotic and abiotic factors that characterize areas with higher numbers of antibiotic producing bacteria in New Mexico cave environments. The effects of human visitation are being tested by sampling from four different caves, two with high visitation and two with low visitation. We hypothesize that increased visitation will increase occurrence of antibiotic producing bacteria, possibly due to increased temperatures due to human presence in the caves. Soil samples from above and within the four lava tubes are being tested for carbon and nitrogen content to determine the effect of nutrient availability. These data will determine whether the caves in which the bacteria grow are carbon limited, nitrogen limited, or balanced. We hypothesize that increased nutrient availability will decrease production of antibiotics by bacteria; with more nutrients available, these bacteria will not have to work as hard to protect themselves and their secondary metabolic production will decrease. Bacterial cultures were inoculated from swabs of wall or floor deposits from these caves onto two different media. Once sub-cultured to a single OTU, the cave bacteria antibiotic testing is done using the four-dot method. This study’s broader implications are that it holds potential of finding new bacterial secondary metabolites that could benefit a great number of people with antibiotic-resistant diseases.

 

Actinobacteria, the most prolific bacterial phylum in antibiotic production, are found in substantial populations in cave environments. The purpose of this study is to investigate biotic and abiotic factors that characterize areas with higher numbers of antibiotic producing bacteria in New Mexico cave environments. The effects of human visitation are being tested by sampling from four different caves, two with high visitation and two with low visitation. We hypothesize that increased visitation will increase occurrence of antibiotic producing bacteria. Soil samples from within the four lava tubes were tested for carbon and nitrogen content to investigate the effect of nutrient availability by determining whether the caves are carbon limited, nitrogen limited, or balanced. Our initial results from nutrient analysis suggest that the two low visitation caves are predominantly carbon limited, while one high visitation cave is predominantly balanced. We hypothesize that increased nutrient availability will decrease production of antibiotics by bacteria; with more nutrients available, these bacteria will not have to work as hard to protect themselves and their secondary metabolic production will decrease. Bacterial cultures were inoculated from swabs of wall or floor deposits from these caves onto two different media. Once a pure culture is obtained through sub-culturing, samples are tested for antibiotic production using the four dot method. Initial screening has yielded three positive results out of 18 when challenged with Escherichia coli. This study has the potential of finding new bacterial secondary metabolites that could benefit a great number of people with antibiotic-resistant diseases. 

 

 

 

Science education reform has prompted scientists, engineers, and politicians alike to act on the growing need for improved educational programs in the STEM fields. Informal science programs that provide an educational experience outside of a traditional classroom and involve students on real-life and hands-on experiments are among these initiatives. The NSF states that informal science programs provide students with experiences that are enjoyable and relevant to their futures. This study’s goals are to test this assumption by assessing the impacts of informal science education via the Junior Scientist Outreach Program (JSOP), a weeklong, free-of-cost camp for 4th and 5th grade elementary students in a predominately Hispanic community in central New Mexico. I hypothesize that JSOP will increase students’ interest and confidence, and therefore scholastic achievement, in science and related subjects. This in turn may increase career interest and success in STEM fields. A mixed-method approach, including pre- and post-camp surveys, follow up interviews and in-classroom observations, will be used to measure the degree to which informal science education initiatives benefit elementary students in traditionally underrepresented populations. This pre- and post- camp design is without a separate control group due to logistical difficulties. This study is intended to give insight, however, to the importance of the emerging field of informal science education. With hands-on experiments that allow children to apply scientific theory learned from textbooks children are apt to eel more free to explore science, a challenging subject that may not intrigue students that lack proper academic training.

 

 

It is hypothesized that informal science programs may increase the range of students interested in pursuing careers in science. Here we evaluate this by assessing the impacts of one such program, the Junior Scientist Outreach Program (JSOP), a weeklong, free-of-cost camp with 47 fourth and fifth grade students in a predominately Hispanic community in central New Mexico. A mixed-methods approach, including pre- and post-camp surveys, follow-up interviews of students and teachers, and in-classroom observations, was used to measure the degree to which informal science education initiatives benefit elementary students in traditionally underrepresented populations. Preliminary data suggest that JSOP increased students’ interest in science and related subjects. This in turn may increase career interest and success in STEM fields. The rich data collected are being used to provide insight into the advantages of informal science education and to influence the design of larger studies.