The world is changing at a rapid pace. Landscapes are being altered, climate patterns are shifting, and human populations are expanding. Many wild species are also harvested - in sustainable and unsustainable fashions - which influence species' ability to adapt to such changes. Our research aims to understand how these factors effect population dynamics and demography in natural systems.
Why do individuals disperse and what habitat facilitates gene flow? How does migration and ecological variation influence local adaptation? What are the genes underlying phenotypic differences? How have humans impacted the genetic composition of wild populations? These are the basic questions I address through integrating genomic and ecological data and a variety of analytical methods. Good basic research often becomes applied and my goal is to provide tools and information that can help conserve biodiversity.
Of late, I have developed an interest in the analytical and bioinformatic methods used in genomic research. Using empirical and simulated data I am exploring how different genome-wide data sets differ in their ability to resolve complex demographic scenarios and how bioinformatic pipelines influence biological interpretations.
Mountain goats. We are investigating the population demographic history of mountain goat populations using genomic sequence. We are also quantifying the drivers of variation in horn size across the mountain goat's range using 40 years of harvest records. Collaborators: Kevin White (Alaska Fish and Game) & Krystal Dixon (BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations)
Pinnipeds. Using genome wide markers we are addressing questions related to pinniped demography in 17 species. Specifically, have culling and harvest impacted population genomic patterns? We are also conducting a large-scale population and conservation genomics study on the California and Galápagos sea lions. Collaborators: Jochen Wolf (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich) and Joe Hoffman (Bielefeld Universitet)
White-tailed and mule deer. We are investigating the spatial genetic structure and factors influencing movement behaviour in deer. We are also exploring the microbiome of deer in Ontario. Collaborators: Joe Northrup and Brent Patterson (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources)
Andean deer. We are examining the population structure and life-history strategies of the Andean deer (or huemul) using genetic and genomic markers. Collaborators: Paulo Corti (Universidad Austral de Chile)
Ornaments and comparative genomics. We are using large phenotyping databases and whole-genome sequence to get at the genetic basis to horns and antlers. We are also applying a comparative genomics approach to identify genomic regions underlying adaptive divergence in wild populations of vertebrates. Collaborators: Nagarjun Vijay (Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhopal) and Chris Kyle (Trent University)