Molecular Ecology Research for Marine Mammal Conservation

Molecular Ecology Research for Marine Mammal Conservation
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Back in 1999 as an undergraduate student in Marine Biology I was a crew member of the Voyage of the Odyssey in the Gulf of California. Since then until 2007 I worked and collaborated on diverse projects related to the ecology and molecular ecology of sperm whales and other cetaceans. When I graduated from my bachelor’s degree I leaded a small projected related to sex determination of sperm whales in the Gulf of California in collaboration with the Conservation Genetics Laboratory at Southwest fisheries Science Center, Centro de Investigaciones Biologicas del Noroestas and the Ocean Alliance publication link. This project opened many doors to continue working on this type of research I enjoyed.

Further I developed my master’s degree at CIBNOR in collaboration with SWFSC. My thesis work coupled the development of novel genetic methods with directed studies on sperm whales in the Gulf of California and the development of a technique for molecular sex determination applicable to 33 cetacean species. This is widely used to study threatened cetacean populations. I used this technique to continue studying sperm whales in the Gulf of California and the central Pacific and generated information useful to promote conservation strategies for this species.

After my master’s I got a job at SWFSC and continued working on developing techniques to screen SNP’s (single nucleotide polymorphisms) in different sperm whale populations of the Pacific and using nuclear markers to study male sperm whales in the Gulf of California. Throughout this period I enjoyed collaborating with a diverse group of colleagues which really motivated me about marine conservation. Our work was presented in international conferences and published in leading journals.

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