Academic Collaborators

Bridgett vonHoldt (Primary Investigator; Assistant Professor, Princeton University): Closely related species that readily hybridize are often the center of controversy over taxonomic status and priority for conservation management. Ancestry of potentially mixing populations is difficult to resolve when the parental species are closely related. Using a genome-wide approach across a geographic sampling of putatively admixed populations, resolving the ancestry assignment of genomic segments will assist in mapping out not only geographic hybrid zones (e.g. Great Lakes region for wolves and coyotes) but also estimate the timings of the initial admixture event.

Linda Rutledge (Post-doctoral Research Associate; Princeton University): I am interested in how hybridization and environmental factors, including human influences, alter evolutionary trajectories and lead to contemporary evolution of species. To that end, my research focuses on genomic ancestry and identifying functional genes that are responsible for local adaptation and improved fitness, particularly for species at risk. I am also interested in understanding how environmental variation alters epigenetic signatures and how that ultimately impacts evolutionary patterns. Much of my work is on Canis species, and in particular Eastern Wolves from Algonquin Provincial Park. I am also the lead researcher for the Eastern Wolf Survey, a research project focused on non-invasively tracking Eastern Wolves in the southern Ontario Provincial Parks. I am excited to be part of the vonHoldt Lab as a post-doctoral research associate, where I will be working primarily on genomic ancestry of North American Canis spp. and epigenetic factors associated with reproductive incompatibility. 

Paul Hohenlohe (Assistant Professor, University of Idaho): Research in the Hohenlohe Lab addresses basic questions in evolutionary genetics and genomics from both theoretical and empirical perspectives, and also applies genomic tools to conservation of threatened species.

Kristin Brzeski (Post-doctoral Researcher; Princeton University): I am broadly interested in the fitness and behavioral consequences associated with inbreeding and loss of functional genetic variation in small populations. I recently finished my PhD at Louisiana State University evaluating inbreeding depression, disease susceptibility, and mate choice in endangered red wolves. In my research, I strive to evaluate questions that have applied conservation and management implications as well as theoretical value.

Elizabeth Heppenheimer (Ph.D. student, Princeton University): My research is broadly focused on the role of adaptive introgression and epigenetics in the evolution of complex traits. I am interested in the genetic consequences of coyote range expansion and hybridization events with wild and domestic canids.

Allie DeCandia (Ph.D. student, Princeton University): My principle area of interest is vertebrate population genomics. I am intrigued by the relationship of micro-evolutionary processes and their larger scale implications. More specifically, I am interested in the use of next-generation technologies to study the interaction of individuals with their environment at multiple genomic levels.

Brent Patterson (Research Scientist & Adjunct Professor, Trent University): Our basic research interests are in determining the proximate and ultimate factors that cause changes in the distribution and abundance of wildlife populations, and more specifically in understanding the dynamics of vertebrate predator-prey systems. Our research approach is largely empirical, based on field studies, and makes use of advances in spatial and statistical modeling including invasive and non-invasive field sampling, resource selection functions, proportional hazards survival and hazard modeling, and spatial simulation models using GIS. As humans, we are the dominant driver of change in the environments we live in and share with wildlife. Accordingly, we focus on research with applied conservation and management components. Our work continues to inform management issues involving wolves, coyotes, moose, and deer in Ontario and beyond.

Joseph Hinton (Post-doctoral researcher, University of Georgia): Ultimately, my long-term goal is to understand how selective pressures operating on key life-history traits influence the abundance and distribution of wildlife populations, and to use this information to guide conservation strategies for the recovery of endangered species. I use canids as focal species to address many ecological and conservation questions in which I employ mark-recapture and radio-tracking techniques to investigate patterns of size, abundance, diet, space use, and survival. My dissertation research focused on the ecology and interactions of red wolves and coyotes, and ecological conditions facilitating hybridization between the two. My current post-doctoral research includes assessing the effects of anthropogenic mortality on the endangered red wolf population and a large regional study on the ecology of coyotes in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Robert Wayne (Professor, UCLA): The research projects of the Wayne lab cover a wide range of species and utilize a multitude of molecular approaches. From exploring contemporary population dynamics to evolutionary relationships, current projects utilize both traditional and next-generation technologies to address ecological and evolutionary questions at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Many of the projects explore genomes for signatures of selection (natural or artificial), local adaptation, patterns of partitioning genetic variation across species and populations, or use a metagenomic approach to understand complex biological systems. We also explore the potential of transcriptomics to gather gene expression data from wild populations.

Roland Kays (Professor, NC State University; NC Museum of Natural Sciences): I am a zoologist with a broad interest in ecology and conservation, especially of mammals. I seek out questions that are scientifically interesting but also have real-world relevance through educational or conservation value. I am an expert in using new technologies to study free-ranging animals, especially to track their movement with telemetry, GPS, and remote camera traps. I combine this high-tech work with traditional methods, collecting data through new field work and studies of museum collections.

Mike Chamberlain (Professor, University of Georgia): I am a professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. I received his B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Virginia Tech, my M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from Mississippi State University, and my Ph.D. in Forest Resources from Mississippi State University. My current research projects cover a wide variety of topics, ranging from movements of mature bucks in Louisiana, movement ecology of coyotes, to ecology and habitat use of wild turkeys across multiple landscapes.

Seth Riley (Associate Adjunct Professor; UCLA): My research focuses on the ecology and conservation of wildlife in fragmented urban landscapes. Specifically, this includes the behavior and ecology of wide-ranging mammalian carnivores such as mountain lions, coyotes, and bobcats. I am also interested in conservation and management of wildlife in National Parks, and in the effective long-term monitoring of National Park resources.

Chris Darimont (Associate Professor - University of Victoria: Trained as an evolutionary ecologist, Chris and the Applied Conservation Science lab confront real-world conservation challenges and opportunities. Their work revolves around wildlife and fish populations, using tools as varied as genetics, modeling, meta-analysis, stable isotope approaches and more.

Daniel Stahler and Douglas Smith (Wildlife Biologists; Yellowstone National Park): Everything wolf!

Kirk Lohmueller (Assistant Professor, UCLA): My research group is focused on understanding natural selection, particularly the removal of deleterious mutations through negative selection. We also specialize in using genetic variation data for inference of population history Our work consists of both developing new methods and well as applying existing methods to new datasets. Though our work is computational, our focus lies in addressing interesting biological questions where new, careful analyses can yield novel and interesting insights.

The Gotham Coyote Project: A great team of researchers interested in documenting the population dynamics of coyotes as they colonize New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area.

John Pollinger (Director of the UCLA Conservation Genetics Resource Center, Associate Director of the Center for Tropical Research; UCLA)

Bradley White (Professor, Trent University): From the prevention of poaching in northern Ontario to the preservation of habitats off the coasts of Taiwan and Hong Kong, Brad White uses DNA technology to track wildlife and understand evolutionary processes. As the director of Trent University’s Natural Resources DNA Profiling and Forensic Centre (NRDPFC), much of his work focuses on integrating ecological field data and individual organism DNA profiles in geographic databases. His research has resulted in an extensive collection of field data and DNA samples from terrestrial and marine species, including beluga whale, North Atlantic right whale, Ontario canid populations, moose, and white-tailed deer. He has trained dozens of graduate students and co-authored over 250 publications. 

Paul J. Wilson (Associate Professor, Trent University): My research program focuses on applied molecular genetics and genomics in forensic science and conservation genetics under the Trent University Strategic Research Area in DNA Profiling, Forensics and Functional Genomics. I received a Tier II Canada Research Chair (CRC) in 2007 (renewed 2012) in the areas of DNA Profiling, Forensic Science and Functional Genomics. Several of my collaborative research projects focus on species at risk in Canada, including polar bears, caribou, lynx, bobcat, flying squirrels and wolves.

Ben Sacks (Associate Adj Professor, UC Davis): I direct the Mammalian Ecology and Conservation Unit of the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at UC Davis.  My students and I employ genomic and field-based methodologies to study evolution and ecology of canids and other mammals. I am especially interested in research that directly or indirectly helps us conserve endangered mammals. Much of my research is motivated by curiosity about the relationships between individual behavior and population-level processes, including the historical roles played by behavioral plasticity and adaptation in the evolution of niche specialization. I am also interested in the role of hybridization as a source of genetic novelty fueling evolution in carnivores.

Steve Fain (Senior Research Scientist, USFWS National Forensics Lab): I am a Senior scientist the US Fish and Wildlife Service National Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon where we use phylogenetics, population genetics and genomics for enforcement of wildlife conservation law. Currently, Genetics Research focuses on species ancestry and understanding genetic differentiation and gene flow in sex-biased genes of mammals. Much of this work is directed at investigating hybridization in threatened species - such as eastern wolf origins and how hybridization continues to shape wolf recovery in the continental US.

Dean Beyer (Associate Professor, MSU; MDNR)

Klaus Koepfli (Post-doc Fellow, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute): Bioinformatics/genomics consultant.

Other Contributors

Becky Harrison (Red Wolf Recovery Program)

Will Waddell (PDZA)

John Benson (Post-doc, UCLA)

Tyler Wheeldon (PhD Candidate, Trent University)

Kyle Van Why (USDA APHIS PA)

Chris Mowry (Associate Professor, Berry College)

Suzie Prange (DNR OH)

Wes Gaston (USDA APHIS GA)

Scott Woodruff (USDA APHIS LA)

Danny Caudill (Alaska Dept Fish Game)

Clint Turnage (USDA APHIS AK)

Tom Gnoske (Field Museum, IL)

Ernie Davis (Maryland Fur Trappers)

Joe Bopp (NYSM)

John Fryxell (Guelph University)

Glenn Desy (OMNR)

And many, many more who donate samples or help us make connections.


Funding Agencies