Andrea Contina

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View the Project on GitHub acontina/research

Ecology - Evolution - Conservation

Hi! I am Andrea. I am a Research Fellow at The University of Texas (Austin) and I am interested in movement ecology, evolution, and wildlife conservation, as well as STEM education and outreach. My academic training focuses on avian research, animal movements, and molecular ecology.


How do we study the ecology and evolution of animal migration?

STABLE ISOTOPES

“You are what you eat”. Organisms are made of the food resources they consume and different stable isotope signatures of common elements such as carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen are progressively incorporated in growing tissues – providing information on different environments and diets. I use stable isotopes (H, C, N) to track animal movements and to reconstruct foraging preferences.

DNA MARKERS

Genetic markers (DNA) can provide an effective tool for the quantitative analysis of migratory connectivity and population genetic structure. I use microsatellites and SNPs for genetic population analyses of migratory birds. I am also conducting a genome-wide association analysis to detected signals of selection in several genes of interest in relation to the molt-migratory phenotype of the Painted Bunting.

GEOLOCATORS

It is not easy to track movements in small (≤ 15 grams) migrant songbirds! Although satellite tracking systems and GPS devices are now much smaller, they are still too big and heavy for many songbirds. I use miniaturized solar powered geolocator tags that, although less precise than GPS technology, can be fitted on small songbirds. I analyze geolocator data in conjunction with stable isotope and genetic data to study species evolution and population responses to climate change.

BIOINFORMATICS

After data collection and analysis… we still need to organize our new knowledge under an integrated ecological framework. My goal is to provide a way to methodically integrate ecological and evolutionary biology information through modern bioinformatics and R coding language.


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Follow me on Twitter @andrea_contina