DEVELOPMENT OF AN ENVIRONMENTAL DNA ASSAY FOR RIO GRANDE SIRENS

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Working towards my master’s thesis, I am in the process of developing an eDNA assay for detection of Rio Grande Sirens, a subspecies of lesser siren found only in south Texas. I am developing assays for qPCR and PCR, as well as comparing eDNA filter types, eDNA effectiveness compared to trapping, and eDNA degradation rates.


aSSESSMENT OF SIREN SPECIES DIFFERENCES IN TEXAS

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Sirens in Texas are split into two subspecies: Siren intermedia nettingi in east Texas, and Siren intermedia texana in south Texas. Not much is known about siren biology and taxonomy. Sirens in south Texas are much larger than those in east Texas, and I am assisting with a project working to discern the differences between the two, both genetically and morphologically.


BLACK-SPOTTED NEWT DISTRIBUTION AND ECOLOGY

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Black-spotted newts (Notopthalmus meridionalis) are an IUCN listed Threatened species, with their only known occupancy of the US at the southern tip of Texas. I am assisting with a project that seeks to better understand the ecology of these newts in order to help conserve them. We are using eDNA, drone imagery, and soil sampling to help determine what habitats are most preferred by the species.