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Preservation of Dog Breeds

Submitted by kmichaud on Fri, 03/24/2017 - 14:59

 

The breed of dog that should be selected should be one of the most basal breeds which would allow for future domestication and the reintroduction of more derived breeds. Of the basal breeds, we chose to save the Alaskan Malamute which is closely related to Artic wolves. Preservation of the Alaskan Malamute breed would allow for potential differentiation of breeds by artificial selection since the Malamute theoretically contains more ancestral DNA of the most recent common ancestor of the breeds derived from Arctic wolf ancestors. 

Conclusion Draft PP

Submitted by kmichaud on Fri, 03/24/2017 - 09:00

Based on these findings, flower number alone does not conclusively impact disease transmission. Other morphological or chemical traits not yet studied are likely better indicators of disease severity. Further manipulations on traits related to transmission and an extensive study on floral longevity and nectar chemistry relationships would provide a clearer mechanism for disease propagation at the transmission level. Such a comparison between floral longevity and flower species studied in the Adler et al. (2014) study is currently underway and may provide further insight into the trait variation of flowering plant species.

REU application draft 2

Submitted by kmichaud on Fri, 03/24/2017 - 08:27

As a member in Dr. Lynn Adler’s lab, I was exposed to the world of plant-insect interactions and pollinator related research relatively early on in my undergraduate career. I assisted with bumblebee projects as a first semester freshman as part of the First-Year Research Experience for honors students in life sciences. Following the completion of the program, I chose to remain with Dr. Lynn Adler’s team because I thoroughly enjoyed working with live organisms and was inspired by my contribution to the conservation of declining pollinators. I continued in the lab my sophomore year and took on the role as lab manager in my spring semester. I was then a project manager during the summer field season, which was an opportune time to collect data for my thesis project on disease transmission in bumblebees while obtaining valuable leadership experience managing a field team.

Conclusions Draft 1

Submitted by kmichaud on Fri, 03/24/2017 - 00:22

Flower number alone does not conclusively impact disease transmission, and other morphological or chemical traits are likely better indicators of disease severity. Further studies on floral traits related to the transmission in the Adler et al. (2014) study and an extensive view into floral longevity and nectar chemistry relationships would provide a clearer mechanism for disease propagation at the transmission level. Such a comparison between floral longevity and flower species studied in the Adler et al. (2014) study is currently underway and may provide further insight into the trait variation of flowering plant species.

 Ultimate determination of the traits involved in transmission may lead to better management practices of plant species in proximity to wild pollinators. Very little is known about the role of plants in pollinator disease transmission; therefore understanding how floral traits act as a substrate for transmission between pollinators would provide valuable insight into a widely unexplored topic of study. Determining the role plants play in disease transmission also provides insight into how communal areas function in pathogen propagation, leading to an increase in knowledge of pathogen-host interactions.

Discussion Draft 2

Submitted by kmichaud on Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:41

Morphological differences in the floral structures may have contributed to this result. The tube-shaped flowers of Monarda didyma were relatively narrow in comparison to the wider tube of the Penstemon digitalis flowers and the flat, open surface of Lythrum salicaria. The act of foraging in a tighter space may have increased the surface area of the worker exposed to the inoculum. The workers may then have transported the inoculum to subsequent flowers and experienced re-exposure to the pathogenic cells with higher exposure in an environment with more potential flowers. This theory does not account for the re-exposure at already probed flowers present in inflorescences with fewer total flowers. For “low” treatment trials, it would be expected that re-exposure would have more significant effects. Consequently, maintaining a constant amount of inoculum across the entire inflorescence between treatments would predict that the foragers on Penstemon digitalis would have received the highest level of infection. This was not observed in experimental trials, indicating that another floral trait is responsible for this difference.

Though flower number within species may not contribute definitively to transmission, other floral traits related to flower number may be causally involved. Floral nectar contains an array of chemical compounds capable of interacting on a medicinal level with pathogens of B. impatiens (Adler 2000; Manson et al. 2010; Baracchi et al. 2015; Biller et al. 2015; Richardson et al. 2015; Thorburn et al. 2015). Though these compounds have been determined to impact disease loads in individual bees as dietary supplements, their impacts on transmission have not been established. Secondary compounds in nectar may have antimicrobial properties linked to reducing unwanted bacterial organisms acting as a preservative in the nectar (Adler 2000; McArt et al. 2014). Nectar in open flowers is an attractant to pollinators and may be degraded by overgrowth of bacterial cells and their byproducts, reducing the visitation by pollinators and subsequent reproduction (Adler 2000; McArt et al. 2014). Plants that keep their flowers open for longer periods of time may invest more in their production of secondary metabolites to maintain preservation of their exposed nectar for extended periods of time. These costly preservative investments may result in production of fewer flowers with increased longevity.

Discussion Draft 1

Submitted by kmichaud on Tue, 03/21/2017 - 22:02

Only one flowering species of the three species tested experienced a treatment effect on pathogen load with bees foraging on more flowers receiving overall higher infections. The lack of a significant treatment effects on Penstemon digitalis and Lythrum salicaria make it unlikely that flower number alone is the causal trait impacting the transmission of pathogens to foraging B. impatiens among all flowering species. The significant difference observed in the Monarda didyma trials suggests that flower number may still play a part in determining the severity of infection of visitors even if it is not the ultimate determinant.

The significant difference in pathogen loads in Monarda didyma trials may be partly explained by the variation in flower range between species. On average, the upper range of Monarda “high” treatment trials had 25-30 flowers present while the lower range, 10-15 flowers, was similar to the “high” range of Penstemon digitalis trials (11-13 flowers). The Lythrum salicaria trials fell in between with a high range of 16-20 flowers. The greater number of flowers may have stimulated increased movement between individual flowers, resulting in a higher spread of inoculum and parasitic cells transported by the foraging worker. The total amount of inoculum was kept constant and the number of flowers probed was not a significant indicator of pathogen load, but the increase in available flowers and nectar may have affected the workers’ exposure to the pathogen.

REU Application Draft

Submitted by kmichaud on Tue, 03/21/2017 - 09:33

Professionally, I seek a career capable of linking my interests in environmental preservation, wildlife conservation, and the methods of ecology, and hope to pursue graduate studies in field relating those goals. I am confident that participation in this research experience would develop my professional skills as a researcher and would shape my path of study in graduate school. Ecology encompasses a wide range of systems and organisms to focus on, and this experience will be invaluable in determining if my life-long interest in avian species will lead to a career in avian related ecological studies. I find the challenge of learning new laboratory and field procedures and interacting with live vertebrates inviting, and am confident that this learning opportunity and emersion into a new ecological field would be vital in directing my career path as a scientist. This opportunity would broaden my breadth of knowledge in ecology and expand my skills in research substantially. I have always been comfortable working independently, and my commitment to detail would lead to a successful independent research project during the summer program. 

Statement of Interest Draft

Submitted by kmichaud on Fri, 03/17/2017 - 23:59

I have learned a significant amount about the disease ecology in plant-insect systems during my time in the lab, but I find myself lacking the same passion that my colleagues feel for this study system. Though I have grown quite fond of insects and appreciate the abundant species interactions found in the plant-insect system, I have always known that I would find my academic purpose working with vertebrates. Coincidently, the research of the Voyles lab integrates these two interests quite succinctly through the study of disease ecology in the rapidly spreading chytrid fungus among amphibian species. Working as part of the Voyles team would expand upon my previous experience with disease systems and would allow me to pursue research in a vertebrate system that I am already relatively familiar with.

The spread of chytrid fungus has been a frequently visited topic in my current Herpetology course and has inspired my interest from a conservation perspective. I have been given an in-depth view into the world of amphibians in these past few months, and would be thrilled to integrate this knowledge into practical applications. I am eager to learn relevant field techniques related to vertebrate species and to observe and handle live amphibians in their natural habitats. The research objectives of the Voyles lab relate to my focus in conservation from an environmental and ecological perspective quite perfectly, and would allow me to work closely with organisms that are both captivating and in great need of protection. The field based approach would require hands on experience in sampling of live organisms, providing me with tools that are critical in herpetological research. 

Draft REU Application

Submitted by kmichaud on Tue, 03/14/2017 - 16:24

Throughout my undergraduate career, I have been searching for the quintessential moment in career development that I have heard so many of my peers in research discuss; the moment in which a spark of passion and excitement drew them to a professional field of study. For some it has been a particularly inspirational single class, a lecture, or an experience in research, but for the majority, it has been a vision developing internally for years. For myself, my ultimate career goals are driven by a combination of the two: my underlying passion for understanding of the natural world has guided my search for a discipline within ecology, while a future experience will allow me to reach a final determination of my focus. I firmly believe that involvement in the REU program at the University of North Florida will be that experience and will be invaluable in narrowing my future field of study in professional science.

To provide background of my experiences, I have been interested in biological sciences for as long as I can remember. As an undergraduate, I have taken courses in biological and environmental sciences with an ultimate focus in conservation biology and ecology. Professionally, I seek a career capable of linking my interests in environmental preservation, wildlife conservation, and the methods of ecology, and hope to pursue graduate studies in field relating those goals. Currently, I am unsure of the professional focus I would choose as a graduate student, but know that it would involve research on an organismal level.

Moss Experiment Articles

Submitted by kmichaud on Fri, 03/10/2017 - 11:52

I couldn’t find anything in the literature about variation in sporophyte length from a manipulative perspective. I found articles relating to desiccation tolerance in Bryophytes. Two review articles were obtained: “Desiccation-tolerance in bryophytes: a review” (DOI:10.1639/0007-2745(2007)110[595:DIBAR]2.0.CO;2) and “The Bryophyte paradox: tolerance of desiccation, evasion of drought.” (http://www.jstor.org/stable/20050994) Both discuss resistance to desiccation in moss species.

A manipulative study, “Drought survival test of eight fen moss species,” (DOI: 10.7872/cryb.v35.iss4.2014.397) was conducted to determine which species of moss were drought tolerant and able to survive desiccation. We would be able to mimic this study by obtaining moss samples from the surrounding area and then removing the water supply of each sample and introducing a new water supply at staggered times. In the greenhouse, we could then determine the survival rate of each species (or in one species) to determine at which point it is unable to survive further desiccation.

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