1. I am using modeling to better understand the impacts of supplementation on wild populations. Specifically, I created forward-time, agent-based models for four species with long-running captive-breeding and release programs and used this model to predict the long-term effects of supplementation. I found that releasing even slightly less fit captive-born individuals to supplement wild populations can result in substantial reductions in population sizes and genetic diversity over the long term, provided that the fitness reductions are heritable.
2. I am also using genomics to understand how species rapidly adapt to novel environments. My co-authors and I have compared the genomes of ocean-going steelhead to steelhead that were successfully introduced into Lake Michigan. We found that Lake Michigan steelhead experienced severe, genome-wide reductions in genetic diversity. Nevertheless, we found evidence of rapid genetic adaptation to the novel freshwater conditions in genes associated with osmoregulation.
1. The goals of captive breeding programs that support conservation activities usually include prevention of extinction and maintenance of genetic diversity until reintroduction of wild populations occurs. Along with many collaborators, I investigated the effects of captive breeding on genomic diversity and identified key aspects related to management of these populations that impact the success or failure of reintroduction efforts.
2. Along with many coauthors, I used a quantitative review methodology to survey over 5000 primary literature articles to amass a database of genetic diversity estimates. We have then leveraged this database into analyses focused on patterns of genetic diversity in species with high conservation need compared to species with low conservation need as well as analysis of effects of migratory behavior and native ecosystem on standing genetic diversity.