Erica Rosenblum, Professor

Closed (1) Measuring the evolutionary responses of mammal communities to climate change

Closed. This professor is continuing with Fall 2018 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Spring 2019.

Understanding how communities of species responded to climate change in the past is crucial to predicting the future impacts of current climate change on biodiversity. In this project, we focus on communities of mammal species worldwide that experienced varying intensities of climate change in the past 140,000 years. We are interested in quantifying diversity at two levels (phylogenetic and functional) in these communities. Our goal is to determine how variation in climate influences phylogenetic relationships among mammal species within a community as well as their roles within those communities.

Specific duties will include:
(1) working with GIS data, phylogenies, and species trait data
(2) statistical data analysis
(3) coding in the R programming language

Learning outcomes include:
(1) Understanding and participating in original scientific research
(2) Introduction to phylogenetic theory and methods
(3) Training in macro-ecological and macro-evolutionary data analysis methods
(4) Becoming familiar with eco-evolutionary, biodiversity, and GIS databases and data sets
(5) Contributing toward and potentially sharing authorship on a scientific paper, Post-Doc

Qualifications: We're looking for a student who (1) is responsible and reliable, (2) has strong attention to detail, (3) has strong communication and organization skills, (4) is willing to learn, (5) has an interest in ecology and evolution, and (6) is familiar with basic programming in R although we will train a student who doesn't have previous coding experience but is otherwise the right fit. Familiarity with basic principles of statistics is desirable but not required.

Weekly Hours: 3-5 hrs

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Open (2) Landscape genetics of Panamanian amphibian species

Open. Apprentices needed for the spring semester. Enter your application on the web beginning January 15th. The deadline to apply is Monday, January 28th at 9 AM.

Panama is home to 214 amphibian species that are phylogenetically and ecologically diverse. In this study we will compare the genetic diversity of multiple sympatric amphibian species found in Panama. We are interested in how certain life history characteristics (i.e. breeding habitat, body size, reproductive mode) are related to gene flow across a landscape in Panama. For this study, we will use DNA collected via non-invasive buccal swabs to compare the genetic diversity of multiple Panamanian amphibian species. We will then conduct spatial analyses to determine which landscape features correlate with patterns of genetic diversity.

Specific duties will include DNA extraction, designing/creating PCRs, troubleshooting PCRs, DNA sequencing, population genetic analysis, spatial analysis of genetic variation.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Allie Byrne, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: Strong interest in molecular biology, genetics and molecular lab work is required. Strong attention to detail and great note-taking skills are required. Previous lab experience running PCRs or other DNA sequencing experience is highly preferred. Experience using R and/or ArcGIS is preferred but not required. In general, we always seek applicants who are passionate about genetics, evolution and/or animals (especially frogs).

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs

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Closed (3) The arthropod prey and dietary niches of desert lizards

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Understanding how species interactions change with species richness is key to our understanding of how ecological communities function. For this project we are comparing the diets of lizards found in the White Sands dunes (in southern New Mexico) with those in the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert. There is a much lower lizard diversity in White Sands relative to the other habitats. Our goals with this project are to quantify 1) the breadth of resources used by the lizards (the population niche width) and 2) intra-populational niche variation. Part of this process involves identifying arthropod specimens.

Specific duties will include identifying arthropod specimens to the lowest possible taxonomic level (whole arthropods and partial animals, from lizard stomach contents) and prepping specimens for stable isotope analyses. Stable isotope prep includes weighing and grinding specimens. Work will take place in labs in Hilgard Hall and VLSB, depending on the task.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Clay Noss, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: Strong interest in ecology, evolution and entomology is required. Strong attention to detail and great note-taking skills are required. Previous experience identifying arthropods from whole specimens or partial specimens (i.e. stomach contents) is preferred. In general, we always seek applicants who are passionate about ecology, evolution and/or animals.

Weekly Hours: 3-5 hrs

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