M.S. Thesis Publication

It finally happened! I finished my M.S. thesis just over a year ago and after lots of polishing I have finally published my thesis with the help of all of my collaborators. The paper, entitled The genetic diversity and population structure of barred sand bass, Paralabrax nebulifer: a historically important fisheries species off southern and Baja California, was published in the current issue of CalCOFI Reports (found here: http://www.calcofi.org/ccpublications/ccreports/calcofi-reports-toc/565-crtoc-vol-56-2015.html).

I personally am happy to have completed my work and have it published. I spent a lot of time and energy developing and executing my project and I know that it has been highly anticipated among the fishing community. I look forward to the discussion of my findings and seeing how they apply to the future of the fisheries in both California and Baja California Sur.

Mitochondrial DNA analysis

Part one of my project is done and part two is underway.The mitochondrial DNA portion was quite a learning experience for me. My previous skills were centered on the lab work, which was not a problem for me. I learned a lot about programs and how to interpret my data. The results were very surprising.

I set out to answer several questions with some ideas of how things would turn out…it turns out that almost every hypothesis I had was wrong. That’s science though. At least I still found something cool.

Map showing the average temperature for the month of July along the Pacific Coast of North America.  Image Credit: Larry G. Allen

Map showing the average temperature for the month of July along the Pacific Coast of North America.
Image Credit: Larry G. Allen

It appears that barred sand bass have a high degree of genetic diversity and gene flow, however there does appear to be some structuring. My data shows some evidence of a genetic barrier for barred sand bass, which has also been seen in other Paralabrax species (Selkoe et al. 2006; Phalen 1999; Salomon 2006). This barrier is the San Quintin upwelling zone in Baja California, Mexico. This upwelling zone is prominent in the summer months when barred sand bass are spawning. The zone limits the mobility of larvae during this time, so it is not a complete barrier, but it is a barrier.

I’m hoping to the pattern will follow for the microsatellites, but you never know with this kind of data.


Barred Sand Bass, Paralabrax nebulifer, My species of interest for my research.

Currently I am working on the foundations of my research for my master’s degree. And by that, I mean I am trying to get all of my thoughts together and write a proposal for my research. I have a general idea of what I want to do, I just need to sit down and figure out all the details so that I can write it down and do it.

The process is a little more difficult that I thought it would be since I am currently working in a lab that is not as specialized towards my interests as the lab I worked in as an undergraduate. I think I will be able to do some really cool stuff in my current lab, but I just have to think of every little thing I would need that this lab is not currently stocked with. I must also branch out in terms of help, since my P.I. is not a geneticist by trade (he is an ichthyologist, and an amazing one at that). Overall I am very excited and ready to take on the challenge!

Hopefully in the next two months I will accomplish that and begin the exciting process of research and make some progress towards my degree.