Wildlife Genetics


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Great Gray Owl

Mtn Lion

Anna's Hummingbird



Red-shouldered Hawk

White-tailed deer

Galápagos hawk

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Holly Ernest, DVM, PhD

Wildlife Genetics, Genomics, and Disease Ecology for Population Health

Laboratory director andHolly
Professor emeritus
Wildlife Genetics and Population Health Laboratory
Dept. of Population Health and Reproduction
, and
Veterinary Genetics laboratory
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California, Davis

New position as of Fall 2014:
Professor, Wyoming Excellence Chair in Disease Ecology
Genomics and ecology of wildlife and their pathogens
University of Wyoming, Laramie
hernest (at) uwyo.edu
phone: 307-766-6605
Wyoming Lab Web Site


Dedicated to:
  Research to develop and apply latest technology in DNA science, disease diagnostics, and ecological & epidemiology statistical analysis toward health, conservation, and management of wild animal populations.
•  Educating the next generation of genomic scientists, applied ecologists, and wildlife veterinarians

•  Providing wildlife population health service and information





Interdisciplinary applied and basic research in population genomics, landscape-level wildlife genetics, and disease ecology for wildlife conservation and population health. 

Special interests in genetics and genomics for wildlife health:  Population Genetics; Molecular DNA to reconstruct predigrees (family trees) to reveal ecological relationships among individuals, kin groups, populations and disease distributions; Discovery of associations among genetic mechanisms, genetic diversity and evolutionary history and phenotypic diversity (phenotype is the composite of an organism's observable characteristics or traits).

Special interest species: Mountain Lion, Bighorn Sheep, Sea Otter, Black Bear, Hummingbirds, Yellow-billed Magpie, Swainson's Hawk, Great Gray Owl, Feral Hog in California (wild pig, wild boar).
Special interest diseases: Avian pox virus, avian hemoparasites (such as avian malaria), West Nile virus, Trichinella in bears and wild pigs, wildlife leptospirosis, and others
Special interest regions:  California and western North America, Mexico, Chile; South/Central America; global interests

See Wildlife Genetic Health


Funding agencies and collaborator

Teaching and Education

Courses: Undergraduate, Graduate student, and Veterinary Student courses developed and taught:
Ecological Genetics and Genomics: at UC Davis 2008-2013 ECL242 / PHR242
Landscape Genetics with GIS (with Dr. Karen Beardsley) 2010 and 2011

Population Genetics Data Analysis and Software: ECL290 taught periodically between 2004-2009
Molecular Markers for Ecology, Conservation, and Wildlife Population Health: ECL290 taught periodically

Co-leader for Population Health Veterinary Curriculum UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Including Epidemiology, Public Health, Foreign Animal Diseases, Biostatistics, One Health, Ecosystem Health, Population Health. 2012-2014. 

Student Opportunities (Graduate, Veterinary, Undergraduate) - now in Wyoming!

Graduate student research and mentorship opportunities - now in Wyoming!

Public and University ServiceSea otter

Current Projectsbighorn sheep

UC Davis affiliations Ferret

Population Health and Reproduction (School of Veterinary Medicine)

Center/Lab affiliations
Wildlife Health Center
Veterinary Genetics Laboratory

Graduate Group service (UCD until 2015)
Animal Biology, Avian Sciences, Ecology, Epidemiology, Forensic Science, Genetics; and Masters in Preventive Veterinary Medicine (MPVM)

Banding Hummingbird at McLaughlin Nature Reserve near Clear Lake, CA

Holly banding hummingbirdsRUfous Hummingbird

Holly investigating botulsim outbreak in bighorn sheep, Mojave desert, California

Investigating botulism