(Every few weeks, we introduce one of our lab’s beloved peeps, so you can learn more about their research and why it matters for our planet)
Species richness is greater in the tropics than at the poles, species richness increases with temperature, and species with high genetic diversity are “healthy” – these are just a few “rules of thumb” often stated in macroecological literature. The question is, are they translatable to a population-level scale. PhD student Elizabeth Lawrence is studying just this using a large-scale meta-analysis. She, together with many research assistants, has assembled a massive database of microsatellite studies of freshwater and anadromous fish, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and mammals, collating population richness metrics across the Americas, and conducting several different studies using the database. The types of questions she is addressing include: does population richness follow the same patterns as species richness, are population- and species-area relationships the same, and is there a latitudinal gradient in genetic diversity / structures a gradient in genetic diversity if a gradient exists? Availability of the database that Elizabeth has created will be extremely useful for long-term comparative studies and further macro-ecological investigations, and each of the questions that she is addressing with the database will contribute to better conservation prioritization.
Elizabeth came to Dylan’s lab from Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she did her BSc in Marine Biology at Dalhousie U. and an honours project with Dr Jeffrey Hutchings. She brought with her a deep fondness for the ocean and a life-long love of fish. Elizabeth takes her extra-curriculars pretty seriously too, as an active Dungeons and Dragons participant, Magic the Gathering player, and painter. A black belt in Judo, Elizabeth also enjoys throwing her labmates around in the field, all for fun of course, and safely!
Read more about Elizabeth’s work, and view some of her artwork here: https://erlawrence.weebly.com/about.html