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Laboratory of Holly Ernest

Beth Mendelsohn

Beth Mendelsohn

IMG_0642Beth Mendelsohn

Position: M.S. student (starting Fall 2016)
Project: Conservation genetics and population health of the Great Gray Owl
Education: B.A. in Biology, Reed College, 2007
Email: coming soon!
Phone: (307) 766-6638

 

Research Interests

As a conservationist, I am inspired to find solutions to reverse the negative impacts of humanity on global biodiversity. My research combines on-the-ground field ecology with molecular genetics to look at wildlife conservation from multiple perspectives. These tools together will help assess population health and identify threats to wildlife populations. The results will be directed towards effective solutions involving coexistence and outreach.

2ZRlCmkZO4LVearrMviJ-xD0Oz4vAsz0mNTnkkh4iVk,ttIBsUm_LnjlWSUJnoNMDY1QMeGKthUbSyPULXSw6ME,FsTJAG9VYT3YPGA-3c2LlleKGD6YdWwoGyvUspCV1AcI focus on raptors in particular as a model study species because they often manifest ecological imbalances. Researching these birds can illuminate widespread environmental problems and lead to resolutions of complex environmental challenges. These incredible birds represent wildness, beauty and the urgency for preservation, and at the same time embody conservation successes.

 

IMG_9536Great Gray Owl Genetics: My master’s research is a population genetics study on the Great Gray Owls of Jackson Hole, WY. A substantial base of information on these owls has been gathered by researchers at the Teton Raptor Center since 2013 as part of an ongoing ecology study.  Building upon this information, I plan to assess genetic diversity, connectivity, and population structure, as well as compare the lineage to other populations of Great Grays. Boreal forest species are increasingly vulnerable to anthropogenic development, and this population in particular resides on the southern extent of suitable habitat in the Rocky Mountains, making it susceptible to environmental changes. The genomics results will leverage the field ecology study to ultimately assess any correlations to environmental threats. The project will contribute to the future conservation of the species.

 

IMG_1499Ectoparasites: I am interested in investigating the relationship between raptor hosts and their parasites. Through a project with Raptor View Research Institute, I collect ectoparasites from Golden Eagles and Bald Eagles. We are in the process of identifying the parasite species, looking at phylogeny of host-specific parasites, and examining the correlations between parasite load and host condition.

 

Newts: For my undergraduate thesis, I analyzed the ecological structure of a population of Rough-skinned Newts. Recently successful habitat restoration efforts had allowed the native amphibians to re-populate a local pond. Monitoring the movements and distribution of this sensitive species throughout its lifecycle provided valuable groundwork for local conservation efforts and future sustainability of the population.

 

DSCF2752Background

Growing up in suburban Illinois, I yearned for the wilderness and mountains. My parents cultivated a love for adventure, science and culture in me. I moved out west to attend Reed College in Portland, OR, and studied for a year at a small college in St. Petersburg, Russia. Ever since, I have made the wild country of Montana and Wyoming my home, learning about species from Gray Wolves to Sage Grouse. I feel incredibly lucky to have found work that combines my joy for the outdoors with my passion for wildlife conservation. My focus is on raptors; I have experience with species including the Golden Eagle, American Kestrel, Great Gray Owl, Long-eared Owl and Snowy Owl. I am an avid yoga and Pilates practitioner and obsessed hiker and backpacker.