Landscape genomics of a top predator
My PhD dissertation focused on three major themes: hybridization, population genetic structure, and local adaptation. I explored these topics in the northeastern coyote. My PhD project uniquely integrated evolutionary ecology, landscape genetics, and the newly emerging field of functional wildlife genomics. It was one of the first genomic surveys of a wild carnivore pioneering the use of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) ascertained from the genome of man’s best friend, Canis familiaris. Two chapters of my dissertation were recently published in Molecular Ecology and F1000Research. Another one is currently in review.
Experimental analysis of prey and predator detection abilities
In collaboration with Charles Janson (Univ. of Montana), I conducted research aiming to measure the ability of a predator to detect its prey and of the prey to detect its predator. Data on detection of prey by predators, or vice versa, in forest ecosystems is extremely scarce and mostly indirect. Our research documented detection events between capuchin monkeys and two species of hawk-eagle using an experimental system in Iguazú National Park, Argentina. This work was recently published in Behaviour.
Climate change and protected areas
Other research explored the effects of climate change on biodiversity within protected areas. My review article on the topic (Monzón et al. 2011, BioScience 61:752-761) highlights the unique position of protected areas to lead the way in climate change adaptation and mitigation. For example, protected areas can mitigate climate change by strengthening their commitments to community outreach and sustainability. In our article we provide some clear, practical, and actionable recommendations that protected area managers can implement immediately to address climate change.
Population viability analysis of long-lived, territorial birds
As a consultant for Applied Biomathematics, I built a stochastic population model of the golden eagle in order to evaluate the effectiveness of proposed population status metrics for birds of prey. Insights from this study are relevant to the monitoring and management of other raptor species and other long-lived, territorial animals. This work is published as an industry report for the Electric Power Research Institute..
Genetics of singing
One of my earliest research experiences was an investigation into the effects of outbreeding on song variation in canaries. This work aimed to elucidate the effects of certain genetic factors on two separate, but interrelated traits: song learning and song production. In collaboration with Paul Mundinger (CUNY Queens College), we discovered that song learning and singing behavior in outbred canaries are more variable than those in genetically inbred strains. However, inbred males with an outbred Z-chromosome learned and behaved like fully outbred males, suggesting the presence of sex-linked genes that strongly affect singing development and behavior.