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

Curriculum Vitae (detailed) pdf





Interdisciplinary applied and basic research in genetics, genomics, biology, 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 Research pages and Featured Research


Funding agencies and collaborators

Teaching and Education

Courses: Graduate student courses developed and taught:
Ecological Genetics and Genomics: ECL242 / PHR242
Landscape Genetics with GIS (with Dr. Karen Beardsley): PHR298 (soon to be ECL2XX)

Population Genetics Data Analysis and Software: ECL290 taught periodicall
Molecular Markers for Ecology, Conservation, and Wildlife Population Health: ECL290 taught periodicall

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)

Professional Societies and Memberships

Licensed California veterinarian
Master Bird Bander Federal U.S. permit (Hummingbirds)

Banding Hummingbird at McLaughlin Nature Reserve near Clear Lake, CA

Holly banding hummingbirdsRUfous Hummingbird

Investigating botulsim outbreak in bighorn sheep, Mojave desert, California

Investigating botulism

1009 VM3B, One Health Institute, 1089 Veterinary Medicine Drive, School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis, Davis, CA 95616

Office Phone: (530) 754-8245

Lab Phone: (530) 752-5727

Email: hbernest (at) ucdavis.edu