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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Publications of our laboratory

Wildlife Population Health and Genetics
Laboratory of Holly Ernest
, Senior Investigator

>> Below are exciting new publications, including Puma (mountain lion, cougar) and bighorn sheep genetics and ecology and sea otter conservation genetics.

>> Stay tuned for upcoming publications!Sea otter conservation book cover

Sea Otter Conservation Genetics. 2015. Shawn Larson, Katherine Ralls, and Holly Ernest. Chapter 5 in the book, Sea Otter Conservation. Edited by Shawn Larson, James Bodkin, Glenn VanBlaricom. Academic Press/Elsevier. 468 pp. Amazon link.

Survival and Mortality of Pumas (Puma concolor) in a Fragmented, Urbanizing Landscape. T. Winston Vickers, DVM, MPVM; Jessica N. Sanchez; Christine K. Johnson; Scott A. Morrison; Randy Botta; Trish Smith; Brian S. Cohen; Patrick R. Huber; Holly B. Ernest; Walter M. Boyce. In press 2015. PLOS ONE.

Genetic population structure of Peninsular bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) indicates substantial gene flow across US-Mexico border. Michael Buchalski, Asako Navarro, Walter Boyce, T. Winston Vickers, Mathias Tobler, Lisa Nordstrom, Jorge Alaníz García, Daphne Gille, Maria Cecilia Penedo, Oliver Ryder, Holly Ernest. 2015. Biological Conservation. 184:218  International collaboration among Ernest lab members Mike Buchalski, Daphne Gille; UCD Wildlife Health Center Walter Boyce, Winston Vickers, Holly Ernest; Veterinary Genetics Lab Cecilia Penedo, San Diego Zoo Asako Navarro, Mathias Tobler, Lisa Nordstrom, Oliver Ryder; and biologists and veterinarians in Mexico including Jorge Alaníz García.  dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2015.01.006

Fractured genetic connectivity threatens a southern California puma (Puma concolor) population. Ernest HB, T. Winston Vickers, Scott A. Morrison, Michael R. Buchalski, Walter M. Boyce. 2014. PLoS ONE 9(10): e107985. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107985.

Individual behavior dominates the dynamics of a mountain lion population in a highly fragmented urban landscape. Seth P. D. Riley, John P. Pollinger, Laurel K. Serieys, Jeffrey A. Sikich, Lisa Dalbeck, Robert K. Wayne, and Holly B. Ernest. 2014. Current Biology. 24:1989–1994.

Abundance and distribution of the Yellow-billed Magpie. S. Crosbie, L. Souza, H. Ernest. 2014. Western Birds, The Quarterly Journal of Western Field Ornithologists. 45(2).
In loving memory of Scott Crosbie

A new subspecies of Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa) in the Sierra Nevada of California, USA. J. Hull, A Engilis, J. Medley, E. Jepsen, J. Duncan, H. Ernest, J. Keane. 2014. Journal of Raptor Research.48(1):68-77.

Hummingbird Health: Pathogens and disease conditions in the family Trochilidae. LA Godoy, LA Tell, HB Ernest. 2014. Journal of Ornithology. In loving memory of Loreto Godoy.

Characterization of avian poxvirus in Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) in California. LA Godoy, LS Dalbeck, LA Tell, LW Woods, RR Colwell, B Robinson, SM Wethington, A Moresco, PR Woolcock, HB Ernest. 2013. Journal of Wildlife Diseases.

Isolation and Characterization of Microsatellite Markers in the Domestic Ferret (Mustela putorius furo). HB Ernest, TL Drazenovich, LS Dalbeck, MG Hawkins. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Open Access. Online Early 2012. doi:10.3390/ijms131216592.

Development of a high-throughput microsphere-based molecular assay to identify fifteen common bloodmeal hosts of Culex mosquitoes. TC Thiemann, AC Brault, HB Ernest, WK Reisen. 2012. Molecular Ecology Resources.

Differential migration in Five Species of Raptors in Central Coastal California. Hull JM, Pitzer SM, Fish AM, Ernest HB, Hull AC. 2012, Journal of Raptor Research. doi:10.3356/JRR-10-116.1

Estimating Western Scrub-Jay Density in California using multiple covariate distance sampling. Crosbie S, Souza LE, Ernest HB. 2011, The Condor 113(4).2. doi:10.1525/cond.2011.090152

Winter Distribution and Conservation Status of the Sierra Nevada Great Gray Owl. Jepsen EP, Keane J, Ernest HB. 2011. Journal of Wildlife Management. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.239.

Reduced MHC and neutral variation in the Galapagos hawk, an island endemic. Bollmer JL, Hull JM, Ernest HB, Sarasola JH, Parker PG. 2011. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 11:143.

Annual Survival of House Finches in relation to West Nile Virus. Pelligrini AR, Wright S, Reisen WK, Treiterer B, Ernest HB. 2011. The Condor 113(1) 233–238.

Population structure and plumage polymorphism: The intraspecific evolutionary relationships of a polymorphic raptor, Buteo jamaicensis harlani Hull JM, DP Mindell, Talbot SL, Kay EH, Hoekstra HE, and Ernest HB. 2010. BMC Evolutionary Biology 10:224.

Range-wide genetic differentiation among North American great gray owls (Strix nebulosa) reveals a distinct lineage restricted to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Hull JM, Keane JJ, Savage WK, Godwin SA, Shafer J, Jepsen EP, Gerhardt R,Stermer C, and Ernest HB. 2010. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 56:212-221.

Pathology associated with West Nile Virus infections in the Yellow-billed Magpie (Pica nuttalli): a California endemic bird. Ernest HB, Woods LW, Hoar BR. 2010. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 46:401-408.

Molecular genealogy tools for white-tailed deer with Chronic Wasting Disease. Ernest HB, Hoar BR, Well JA, O'Rourke K. 2010. Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research. 74(2)152

West Nile virus antibody surveillance in three Sierra Nevada raptors of conservation concern. Hull JM, Keane JJ, Tell LA, Ernest HB. 2010. The Condor. 112(1):168-172

Black Bear Population Genetics in California: Signatures of Population Structure, Competitive Release and Historical Translocation. Brown SK, Hull JM, Updike D, Fain S, Ernest HB. 2009. Journal of Mammalogy. 90:1066–1074.

Differential Migration between Discrete Populations of Juvenile Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis). Hull JM, Ernest HB, Harley JA, Fish AM, Hull AC. 2009. The Auk- Journal of the American Ornithologists' Union. 126:389–396.

Development of nine microsatellite loci for Yellow-billed Magpie (Pica nuttalli) and corvid ecology and West Nile virus studies. Ernest HB, Well JA, and J. Kurushima. 2008. Molecular Ecology Resources. 8:196 - 198

On the origin the Galápagos hawk: An examination of phenotypic differentiation and mitochondrial paraphyly. Hull JM, Savage WK, Bollmer JL, Kimball RT, Parker PG, Whiteman NK, Ernest HB. 2008. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 95:779 - 789.

Early Impact of West Nile virus on the Yellow-billed Magpie (Pica nuttalli). Crosbie SP, Koenig WD, Reisen WK, Kramer VL, Marcus L, Carney R, Pandolfino E, Bolen GM, Crosbie LR, Bell DA, Ernest HB. 2008. The Auk- Journal of the American Ornithologists' Union.125: 542–550.

Comparative phylogeography and population genetics within Buteo lineatus reveals evidence of distinct evolutionary lineages. Hull JM, BN Strobel, CW Boal, AC Hull, CR Dykstra, AM Irish, AM Fish, HB Ernest, 2008. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 49:988-996.

Development of 37 microsatellite loci for Great Gray Owls (Strix nebulosa) with cross amplification in Spotted Owls (Strix occidentalis) and Barred Owls (Strix varia)Hull J, J Keane, L Tell, and H Ernest. 2008. Conservation Genetics 9: 1357-1361.

Population structure and genetic diversity in Swainson’s Hawks (Buteo swainsoni), implications for conservation. Hull J.M., R. Anderson, M. Bradbury, J. Estep, H. B. Ernest. 2008. Conservation Genetics 9:305-316.

Sex determination of three raptor species using morphology and molecular techniques. Pitzer S, Hull J, Ernest H, Hull A. 2008. Journal of Field Ornithology. 79(1):71–79.

Landscape characteristics influence morphological and genetic differentiation in a widespread raptor (Buteo jamaicensis. Hull JM, Hull AC, Sacks BN, Smith JP, Ernest HB. 2008.  Molecular Ecology. 17: 810 - 824.

Coyotes Demonstrate How Habitat Specialization by Individuals of a Generalist Species Can Diversify Populations in a Heterogeneous Ecoregion. Sacks BN, DL Bannasch, BB Chomel, HB Ernest. 2008. Molecular Biology and Evolution 2008 25(7):1384-1394.

Mountain lion ecological genetics. Brown S.K., H.B. Ernest. 2007. Wild Cat News. June. www.cougarnet.org

Hybridization among Buteos: Swainson's Hawks (Buteo swainsoni) × Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis). Hull J.M., W. Savage, J.P. Smith, N. Murphy, L. Cullen, A.D. Hutchins, H.B. Ernest. 2007. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology,.119(4):579–584.

Development of 19 microsatellite loci for Swainson’s Hawks (Buteo swainsoni) and other Buteos. Hull J.M., D. Tufts, J.R. Topinka, B.P. May, H.B. Ernest. 2007. Molecular Ecology Notes 7 (2), 346–349.

Microsatellite analysis of three Elk (Cervus elaphus) subspecies in California. Meredith E.P., J.A. Rodzen, J.D. Banks, R. Schaefer, H.B. Ernest, T.R. Famula, B.P. May. 2007. Journal of Mammalogy.88: 801–808.

Development of 21 microsatellite loci for puma (Puma concolor) ecology and forensics. Kurushima J., J. Well, J. Collins, H.B.Ernest. 2006. Molecular Ecology Notes 6 (4), 1260–1262.

West Nile Virus Antibody Prevalence in Free-ranging California Raptors. Hull J.M., A. Hull, H.B. Ernest. 2006. The Condor. 108:435–439.

San Francisco's Golden Gate: a bridge between historically distinct coyote (Canis latrans) populations? Sacks B.N., H.B. Ernest, E.E. Boydston. 2006.
Western North American Naturalist. 66:263-264.

Movements and social structure along a cryptic population genetic subdivision in the coyote. Sacks B.N., B.R. Mitchell, C.L. Williams, H.B. Ernest. 2005. Molecular Ecology 14:1241-1249.

Population structure of California coyotes corresponds to habitat-specific breaks and illuminates species history. Sacks B.N., Sarah Brown, H.B. Ernest. 2004. Molecular Ecology. 13:1265-1275.

Population Genetic Structure of Mountain Lions in California. Ernest H.B., V.C. Bleich, B.P. May, S.Stiver, S. Torres, W.M. Boyce. 2003. Conservation Genetics. 4(3): 353-366.

Fecal DNA analysis and risk assessment of mountain lion predation of bighorn sheep. Ernest H.B., E.S. Rubin, W.M. Boyce. 2002. Journal of Wildlife Management 66(1) 75-85.

Captive breeding Contingency plan: A Guide for Captive Breeding of Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep. Ernest HB. 2001. Report for Interagency Agreement # P9980059 between California Department of Fish and Game and Wildlife Health Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis CA. 147 pages.

DNA analysis for mountain lion conservation. Ernest H.B. Outdoor California. May-June. 61(3)16-19. Invited paper. 2000.

DNA sampling and research techniques. Ernest H.B. Outdoor California. May-June. 61(3)20-21. Invited paper. 2000.

Molecular tracking of mountain lions in the Yosemite Valley region in California: genetic analysis using microsatellites and fecal DNA. Ernest, H.B., M.C.T. Penedo, B.P. May, M. Syvanen, and W.M. Boyce. 2000. Molecular Ecology 9:433-441.

DNA Identification of mountain lions involved in livestock predation and public safety incident. H.B. Ernest, W.M. Boyce. 2000. Proceedings of the 19th Vertebrate Pest Conference. T. P. Salmon and A. C. Crabb, Eds. Published at the University of California, Davis. 290-294.

Desert bighorn sheep mortality due to presumptive type C botulism. Swift, P.K., J.D. Wehausen, H.B. Ernest, R.S. Singer, A.M. Pauli, H. Kinde, T.E. Rocke, and V.C. Bleich. 2000. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 36(1):184-189. More on bighorn sheep research.