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Rachel Brown

Genetic Diversity and Connectivity of Glass Sponge Reefs

Rachel Brown
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I completed my BSc in Biology with a minor in Ocean Science at the University of Alberta in 2011. My broad interests lie in deep sea, population connectivity, and community interactions in a changing environment.

Sally Leys

Biological Sciences, University of Alberta

09/2011 - present

Population Connectivity, MB-18: Corals and Sponges

rrbrown@ualberta.ca

Glass sponge reefs provide important habitat to many organisms off the coast of BC, but little is known about their reproduction or genetic fitness. Glass sponge larvae are nearly impossible to obtain for reef-building species due to the depth of the reefs, scarcity of larvae and unknown breeding season. Because of this, I will examine the genetic diversity of populations, gene flow, and ecological aspects of their reproduction using a combination of a Genotyping by Sequencing approach on the Ion Torrent PGM and histological observations of embryonic development.

The specific project/thesis aims project are:

1. Determine the genetic diversity and structure of the glass sponge reefs.

2. Determine realized extent of larval dispersal.

3. Examine genetic structure of a reef-forming glass sponge on a broader scale: are there regional differences between subpopulations, or differences between reef-building and isolated individuals? This work will provide insight into management requirements and lead to predictive models of genetic diversity in other glass sponge species.

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