Rowena Chong (PhD Student) is working on describing the Tasmanian devil virome and differences between captive and wild devils. We know from previous work in our group that there are significant differences in the devil microbiome between captivity and the wild. Rowena is describing changes in devil microbiomes when Tasmanian devils are released to the wild from captivity.
Elspeth McLennan (PhD Student) is working to understand the utility of assisted colonisations to offshore islands using the introduction of Tasmanian devils to Maria Island, Tasmania. Elspeth is investigating the ecological impact of this introduced carnivore to a naïve ecosystem using a metabarcoding technique to assess devil foraging patterns, using pedigree reconstruction techniques to determine patterns of reproductive success, and assessing the ability of devils from Maria Island to integrate into dwindling wild populations and produce admixed offspring.
Kate Farquharson (PhD Student) is undertaking a study to understand the impacts of adaptation to captivity in conservation breeding programs. This includes using statistical and genetic techniques to investigate the influence of generations in captivity on reproductive success in a number of diverse threatened species as well as the management of mate choice in a group-housed species. As part of her PhD she has developed methods to analyse reduced representation sequencing data in order to answer population genetics questions.
Caitlin Morrison (PhD Student) is working with one of Australia’s most critically endangered birds, the orange bellied parrot. Caitlin’s project involves characterising genetic diversity within both the captive orange-bellied parrot insurance population and among the last remaining wild birds. Her study also encompasses assessment of immunogenetic diversity in orange-bellied parrots in the face of disease.
Parice Brandies (PhD Student) is interested in how reference genomes and genomic data can assist in the conservation of vulnerable Australian marsupials. Her project focuses on reference genome creation and a range of downstream bioinformatic analyses that have conservation implications.
Luke Silver (Honours Student) is looking at genetic differences in behavioural genes between captive Tasmanian Devils that survived and were hit by cars upon reintroduction to the wild.
Thea Wilson (Honours Student) is studying the antimicrobial activity of a family of antimicrobial peptides, Cathelicidins, in the greater bilby. This involves identifying cathelicidin genes in the transcriptome and then testing these peptides against a range of pathogens.
Alicia Jones (Honours student) is undertaking a project to characterise the MHC class I and II immune genes in the woylie, a critically endangered Australian marsupial, that has experienced severe habitat fragmentation and population crashes of greater than 90%. Studies of marsupial MHC diversity can provide vital information about the emergence and spread of disease in wildlife populations and help inform species conservation strategies.
Holly Cope (co-supervised with Cathy Herbert)
Lauren van der Kraan