Domestication of Your Jack-O-Lantern

Happy Halloween everyone! As I was walking around the pumpkin patch picking out my Jack-O-Lantern-to-be, I started wondering: where in the world are pumpkins from?!  To be fair, as a phylogeographer it’s my job to wonder where different species came from and what geographic routes they took to arrive at their current distribution.  Usually a…

Year in Review: What We Wrote 2016

Anna I feel as though 2016 has been a slow year for papers for me, with a number of works in progress taking longer than I thought they would. However, I am ending the year with a handful of papers either in review or almost ready to submit, so I hope that 2017 will be much better….

Behind the paper: eDNA has great potential as a wildlife survey tool, but should be used properly

As many people know, two of my favourite topics are bandicoots and environmental DNA (eDNA). So I’m very excited about the online debut of my latest paper “A framework for developing and validating taxon-specific primers for specimen identification from environmental DNA” at Molecular Ecology Resources, which includes both bandicoots and eDNA. eDNA analysis is the analysis of DNA…

Is Man’s Best Friend Wildlife’s Best Friend?

Conservationists love to hate on cats because unfortunately they kill our feathered friends. The solution is easy (keep your cat indoors), but what about our other beloved pet, man’s best friend? You don’t hear much about the impacts of dogs on wildlife and dogs are a pet you have to let outside. Do they ever get the…

Do Endangered Species have 12 Years to Wait?

My colleagues and I recently published on the time it takes to list a species under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA).  This post will highlight some of our main findings with a few extra thoughts I have about the data. How long SHOULD it take to list a species under the ESA? In 1982…

Behind the paper: using DNA to define conservation units for endangered dragons

This week, we have a new paper published online in the journal Conservation Genetics, with former Honours student Emma Carlson as lead author. The paper is titled “How many conservation units are there for the endangered grassland earless dragons?” Yes, that’s right, dragons! But not the fire-breathing sort. The grassland earless dragon (Tympanocyrptis pinguicolla) is a…

Year in Review: What We Wrote 2015

Anna Two of my 2015 papers tackle aspects of the same question: how reliable are genetic tests to detect wildlife from trace DNA samples? It’s great to be able to use DNA to work out which species of mammal has been pooping in the woods, or to confirm the identification of a museum sample or roadkill of uncertain origin. But…

Behind the Paper: Spatial Assignment Not as Accurate as Promised

Imagine that you are an airport security screener in charge of searching for and identifying wildlife products and you came across 100 bear paws. Trade of all eight bear species is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and trade of severed paws is illegal. There are a number of questions…

Behind the Paper: Bears in Alaska Just Want to Have Fun (Genetics that is)

My paper on the phylogeography of the American black bear (sub) was recently published. Phylogeography is the study of the historic processes that shape the contemporary distribution of a species’ genetic diversity. This means we can reconstruct how species moved across their range to come to their current distribution by looking at their genetics. Populations…