Pages Navigation Menu

Laboratory of Holly Ernest

Holly Ernest

Holly Ernest

Holly researchingHolly Ernest, DVM, PhD

Wildlife Population Ecology, Genetics, Genomics, and Disease Ecology for Conservation and Wildlife Health

Wildlife Biologist, Population Geneticist, and Research Veterinarian
Professor and Lead Investigator: Wildlife Genomics and Disease Ecology Lab
Wyoming Excellence Chair in Disease Ecology
Certified Senior Ecologist, Ecological Society of America
Fulbright Scholar 2021

Dedicated to:

  • Research in wildlife sciences for improved animal, ecosystem, and human health.
  • Research to develop and apply latest methods in genomic science, wildlife biology, disease ecology, toward health, conservation, and management of wild animal populations.
  • Educating the next generation of scientists, wildlife biologists, conservation educators, and veterinarians in disease ecology and wildlife genomics
  • Providing wildlife population health service and information to the public


Holly Ernest, Snowy Range, Wyoming

Holly Ernest, Snowy Range, Wyoming

Holly Ernest CV | LinkedIn



Google Scholar

ORCID Researcher Page:


  • Ph.D. Ecology, with emphasis on Wildlife Genetics and Population Health:University of California, Davis.
  • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), Cum Laude, Ohio State University.
  • M.S., Ohio State University, Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology.
  • B.Sc., Cornell University, Biology (Animal Science and Biology).


Holly Ernest in elk feed grounds

Holly and Graeme, elk feed grounds, Wyoming

Interdisciplinary applied and basic research in genetics, genomics, biology, and disease ecology for wildlife conservation and population health.

View publications.

  • Free-ranging species of conservation & management concern
  • Threatened and endangered species

Special interests in genetics and genomics for wildlife health and disease ecology: Population Genetics; Molecular DNA to reconstruct pedigrees (family trees) to reveal ecological relationships among individuals, kin groups, populations and disease distributions; Discovery of associations among genetic mechanisms, genetic diversity and evolutionary history and phenotypic diversity (phenotype is the composite of an organism’s observable characteristics or traits). Wildlife Forensic Genetics.

Special interest species: Mountain Lion, Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep, Sea Otter, Black Bear, Hummingbirds, Great Gray Owl, Yellow-billed Magpie, Swainson’s Hawk, ticks, bugs, worms, germs.

Special interest diseases: Avian pox virus, avian hemoparasites (such as avian malaria), West Nile virus, Trichinella in bears and wild pigs, and others

Special interest regions: Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West, California and western North America, Mexico, Chile; South/Central America; global interests

See Research pages

Funding agencies and collaborators

  • Wyoming Department of Fish and Game
  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Wyoming Wildlife Council
  • Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation
  • Colorado State University
  • Montana State University
  • UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UCLA, San Diego State University
  • National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • National Science Foundation
  • Meg and Bert Raynes Fund, Jackson, WY

Teaching and Education

Holly, Hummingbird field work

Holly, Hummingbird field work

Courses: Graduate student courses developed and taught:

  • University of Wyoming:Conservation Genomics: 3 sections: Graduate Seminar, “Coffee Break Cons Gen”, and Cons Gen Term Project Team. (2016-present during Fall semester)
  • University of Wyoming: Disease Ecology (2016-present)
  • University of California Davis: Ecological Genetics and Genomics: ECL242 / PHR242
  • University of California Davis: Landscape Genetics with GIS (with Dr. Karen Beardsley): PHR298
  • University of California Davis: Population Genetics Data Analysis and Software: ECL290 taught periodicall
  • University of California Davis: Molecular Markers for Ecology, Conservation, and Wildlife Population Health: ECL290
  • University of California Davis: Co-leader for Population Health Veterinary Curriculum UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
    Including Epidemiology, Public Health, Foreign Animal Diseases, Biostatistics, One Health, Ecosystem Health, Population Health. 2012-2014.

Student Opportunities (Graduate, Veterinary, Undergraduate)

  • Engaging bright and motivated undergraduate, graduate, veterinary, and post-doctoral students who have scientific curiosity in the exciting and rapidly changing field of ecological genetics and wildlife population health.
  • Provide a collaborative, intellectually-challenging, and nurturing atmosphere. My aim is for students to grow their appreciation and talents in the art and science of designing and conducting studies involving DNA, ecology, and population health analyses of free-ranging wildlife.

Public and University Service (current list of active memberships)

Holly Fine Scale Hummingbird Health Work

Holly examining hummingbird

Current Projects

    • Black Bears: Disease ecology, non-invasive population genetics

Professional Societies and Memberships

Holly in Pinedale, WY

Master Bird Bander Federal U.S. permit (Hummingbirds)


Mailing address: Department of Veterinary Sciences, 1074 Snowy Range Road, Laramie Wyoming, 82070

Office Phone: (307) 766-6605



Holly BHS botulism

BHS die off in Old Dad Mtns, Mojave Desert. On a very hot Memorial Day Weekend, hiked into scene of 46 dead BHS with John W, and Randy S. Learn more “Desert bighorn sheep mortality due to presumptive type C botulism

Sierra mule deer captures

Round Valley in eastern Sierra mule deer captures for telemetry and sampling – led “mugging team” – hop out of helicopter after deer netted, prep it for helicoptering back to base camp for radiocollar, data, and sampling, then release.

Holly with deer
Garter snake in lab

Giant Garter Snake from California Central Valley with parasite-caused mass on head. For a season, Holly was veterinarian who anesthetized and implanted radios in abdomens of the gentle threatened water snakes so that wildlife biologists with USGS could track their movements and survivorship, and map their habitats.

xray of snake

X-ray pic of snake’s mass on head.

Holly holding a baby alligator

Holly holding baby alligator for examination by boatload of Envirovet students in Florida.

Holly treating mountain lion

Holly treating and suturing minor cut on paw pad of mountain lion captured and released for telemetry in Redwoods of California in 1990’s.

Holly setting snare in San Andres

Holly setting snare, helping Linda set a paw-safe capture snare in 1990’s for mountain lion ecology study in New Mexico in San Andres Mountain Range. Thank you Linda and Ken for the training and wonderful time learning desert mountain lion ecology.

Keeping mountain lion cool

Keeping desert mountain lion cool while we placed radio collar, took measurements, then released.

Holly's plane
Holly flying plane

Holly is a single-engine airplane pilot since soloing at age of 16. For 40th, “celebrated” by buying 101AC Super Scout (180 hp, tundra tires, variable-pitch prop, awesome bush plane!). Unlike some tail-dragger aircraft, the pilot sits in front (Holly in pic). Favorite flights were with Bruce to Mono Lake, and her Dad to Lake Berryessa. Sold 4 years later to supply down payment on first owned home with Bruce, and the then-new baby.