Student receives training in genetic and demographic techniques to develop research collaboration.
South African student Jessica Dawson will be visiting RCN members Whitman Miller and Gregory Ruiz. She will be working largely with postdoc April Blakeslee. Her home base while she is in the US will be SERC, where she will receive lab training–dissecting Littorina saxatilis snails and identifying trematode parasite species as well as learning molecular tools for population genetics. We will also travel to San Francisco Bay, where she will receive field training for collecting demographic data on the snail (in an environment more similar to what she will encounter in South Africa) as well as more parasite information. Finally, we will take a short trip up the US East Coast to collect more snails – this part will be focused on parasite training because there are quite a number of species on the East Coast and this will help her become familiar with how to identify them. All of this training will prepare her for returning to Cape Town where she will explore a couple populations of L. saxatilis in that region, which are presently considered cryptogenic. We will use molecular and parasite data to resolve the cryptogenic status, and her demographic training will be used to understand the species’ abundance and distribution in these South African populations, which we can then compare to its other populations in the North Atlantic and the introduced population in San Francisco Bay.