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Kelley Lab News

Kerry McGowan receives the Vern Parish Award

Ph.D. candidate Kerry McGowan is the 2020 recipient of the Vern Parish Award. The award was established in memory of Vern Parish, an important member of the American Livebearer Association. She will use the funding to continue her research on extremophile poecilids in southern Mexico. 

Scott Hotaling publishes guidelines for concise scientific writing

Writing is hard. It’s something that every scientist struggles with. Writing concisely — saying what you mean in as few words as possible — is especially hard yet it’s a crucial skill for scientists to develop. Postdoc Scott Hotaling published an open access essay in Limnology & Oceanography Letters to help. Titled “Simple rules for concise scientific writing” (see a summary of his rules below), Scott provides practical advice to improve your scientific writing.


Alex Fraik publishes new paper on Tasmanian devil DFTD and environment

The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is found only on the environmentally heterogeneous island of Tasmania and is threatened with extinction by a transmissible cancer, devil facial tumor disease (DFTD). In this study, Fraik and colleagues used landscape genomics analyses to investigate the relative effects of abiotic environment versus an infectious cancer (DFTD) on Tasmanian devil populations Several post‐DFTD candidate loci were associated with disease prevalence and were in linkage disequilibrium with genes involved in tumor suppression and immune response. Loss of apparent signal of abiotic local adaptation post‐disease suggests swamping by strong selection resulting from the rapid onset of DFTD. Read the full paper here.

Scott Hotaling publishes findings on meltwater biodiversity

Mountain glaciers are disappearing around the world, including in iconic locations like Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana. With the recession of glaciers come dramatic changes in downstream habitats. As habitats are altered and meltwater sources dwindle, organisms adapted to the cold conditions of glacier-fed stream face increasingly uncertain futures. By linking high-resolution invertebrate data for 129 sites across the Glacier National Park alpine to fine-scale glacial records dating to Little Ice Age (~170 years ago), Scott et al. were able to ask a key question: what happens to mountain stream biodiversity as glaciers recede? They found that a distinct “cold-water” community lives in headwater streams and this cold-water community is persisting in places that have not been glaciated in 170 years! These findings challenge the notion that headwater stream invertebrates are cold stenotherms that are acutely sensitive to stream warming and opens the door to new questions about their physiological limits and how biotic drivers (e.g., competition) may shape their distributions.

Link to study: