This research investigates the mechanisms underlying species tolerance of extreme environments, focusing on pika (genus Ochotona). There are 30 pika species, each occupying a unique elevational range between 0 - 6400 m with the highest concentration of species diversity in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau region. Limited oxygen at high elevation critically stresses aerobic metabolism; however, little is known about how pikas are capable of tolerating the extreme hypoxia of their high-elevation habitat. Additionally, climate change is causing many pika populations to shift their ranges even higher in elevation.
Bats have been identified as the reservoirs for a number of emerging infectious diseases but most of these pathogens have coevolved with their hosts for long periods of time without causing issue. We are seeking to understand the potential sources, sinks and pathways of zoonotic infection in a countryside landscape that is home to one of the most diverse bat faunas in the world by examining bats and livestock as well as surveying human behavior.
We take an interdisciplinary approach to reconstruct recent extinctions in the Caribbean across the past 15,000 years, and leverage these data towards guiding conservation planning in the region under a changing climate and growing human population. Techniques include genomics, stable isotopes, radiocarbon dating, and morphometrics.
Costa Rica is home to one of the richest, most ecologically diverse bat faunas in the world and is also subject to widespread habitat conversion like many developing nations. We seek to understand how bat ecology and deforestation affect infections in bats as well as how ecologically diverse bats may have evolved to deal with their infections.
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