Office: Biology 430
Phone: (970) 491-1911
Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=9zKxzIwAAAAJ&hl=en
- BA: University of Pennsylvania; MSc: University of Alberta, Canada; PhD: Florida State University
My laboratory group focuses on the effects of patchy or fragmented habitats on the population genetics of animals and plants. Most of my work has been on the genetics of sex ratio, life-history variation, and mating systems of parasitic wasps. For the last 18 years we have conducted studies of the population ecology, genetics, and epidemiology of the Black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus), whose populations are severely affected by local outbreaks of plague (Yersinia pestis). Besides studying metapopulation dynamics of prairie dogs, we study plague in the context of climate variability and the rodent communities surrounding prairie dog colonies, transmission of the plague bacterium by fleas, and genetic analyses of the plague bacterium. Our study sites have been on the the USDA Central Plains Experimental Range and on the US Forest Service Pawnee National Grasslands, located 40 miles northeast of Fort Collins, and on the Vermejo Ranch, owned by Turner Enterprises, in northern New Mexico. Recently we have been working with a large interdisciplinary group of researchers on the NSF-funded Laramie Foothills Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Project. CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy caused by misfolding of prions, or proteins of infectious origin. This same protein is naturally expressed in all vertebrates, the misfolded form is the prion, and causes disease like scapie in sheep, bovine spongiform encephalopathy ("mad cow disease"), and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans (e.g. the infamous kuru of the South Fore tribe of New Guinea). We study the genetics of CWD in mule deer in relation to spatial epidemiology and genetics http://www.nrel.colostate.edu/projects/modelingCWD/. In our studies we employ a variety of molecular genetic markers, including microsatellites, mitochondrial DNA, SSCP, and DNA sequencing.