Sarah Vincze and Sarah Burton represented the Cammen Lab at the 2018 Northwest Atlantic Seal Research Consortium (NASRC) Meeting. Sarah Vincze was invited to give an oral presentation on our recently published paper, Genetic Diversity from Pre-bottleneck to Recovery in Sympatric Pinnipeds in the Northwest Atlantic.
Congratulations to Faythe Goins, who publicly defended her undergraduate Honors thesis research this afternoon in front of friends, family, academic colleagues, and the entire UMaine women’s softball team! Faythe studied how environmental factors, such as temperature, cloud cover, and precipitation, have affected loggerhead sea turtle nesting on Edisto Island, SC over the past 8 years. In addition to her research, Faythe presented a reading list of books, texts, and musical pieces that have been important to her throughout her college career. For her excellent thesis and presentation, Faythe earned Highest Honors!Faythe’s analysis relied on long-term data collected by volunteers for the SC Department of Natural Resources, a program which Faythe herself has participated over the past 4 summers. Faythe is excited to spend one more summer on sea turtle patrol in SC before heading to the University of Georgia Veterinary School this fall.
This week three undergraduate students in the Cammen lab presented their research at UMaine student research symposia. Please join us in congratulating the students for their excellent poster presentations!
Faythe Goins presented her honors thesis research, Environmental Impacts on Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nesting on Edisto Island, SC, at the 2018 UMaine Student Symposium and won best poster presentation in Natural Sciences! She also presented her research at the School of Marine Sciences Capstone Symposium, and will publicly defend her thesis next week.
Kai LaSpina presented preliminary results from her Capstone research, Investigating the relationship of mass stranding events and genetic relatedness in the Atlantic white-sided dolphin, Lagenorhynchus acutus, at the 2018 UMaine Student Symposium. Stay tuned for future results and presentations of Kai’s research!
Sarah Vincze presented her senior Capstone research, An analysis of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) unusual mortality events along Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coastline in association with Karenia brevis blooms, at the School of Marine Sciences Capstone symposium.
With the start of a new year and a new semester, it’s time to welcome new and returning members of the Cammen Lab. This semester, Emma Newcomb, Sarah Burton, and Holland Haverkamp have returned to the lab to continue their research on marine mammal stranding rates in Maine. Kai LaSpina is continuing her research on genetic relatedness of mass stranded Atlantic white-sided dolphins. Sarah Vincze continues her Capstone literature review on the effects of HABs on bottlenose dolphins and is back in the lab, after a semester at the Darling Marine Center, to collaborate on various marine mammal genetics projects. Faythe Goins is preparing to defend her Honors thesis on loggerhead sea turtle nesting trends in South Carolina later this spring. This semester, we also welcome two new members: Emma Spies, a freshman UMaine Top Scholar, who will be initiating a project on immunogenetic diversity in gray and harbor seals, and Liz Piotrowski, who is starting her Capstone research on Atlantic white-sided dolphin sightings in the Gulf of Maine. It’s exciting to have a great group of students involved in our research and we all look forward to a productive semester! You can learn more about these students and opportunities to join the Cammen Lab here.
As a final project, this year’s INT308 (Marine Mammal Ecology and Conservation) undergraduate students produced the inaugural Marine Mammals in the News online publication. From whales to manatees, from the Arctic to Mexico, from conservation to physiology, and much more – check out the stories they wrote, highlighting marine mammal science that has been published within the last year.
We are pleased to announce the recent publication of our study of genetic diversity among archaeological and contemporary gray and harbor seals from the Northwest Atlantic. In our paper, we describe finding greater genetic diversity in both seal populations prior to the bounties of the early and mid-1900s. We further present evidence that is consistent with the potential loss of a historical Maine subpopulation of gray seals. These findings are significant to the discussion of how to manage gray and harbor seals today as their populations recover along parts of Maine, Massachusetts, and the Canadian Maritimes.
The co-authors on this paper include undergraduate Sarah Vincze, graduate student Sky Heller, and professor Mike Kinnison from the University of Maine, as well as collaborators from NOAA NEFSC, Canada DFO, Tufts University, and St. Mary’s University. The project was enhanced by the diverse perspectives of geneticists, ecologists, field biologists, and archaeologists.
Our paper can be found here, or feel free to contact me directly for more information.
Cammen KM, Vincze S, Heller AS, McLeod BA, Wood SA, Bowen WD, Hammill MO, Puryear WB, Runstadler J, Wenzel FW, Kinnison M, Frasier TR (2018) Genetic diversity from bottleneck to recovery in two sympatric pinniped species in the Northwest Atlantic. Conservation Genetics. 19: 555-569.
This past month has been a wonderful whirlwind of work-related travel, to and from Canada (twice!) and roundabout Maine. I kicked off the month with a trip to the University of New Brunswick in St. John to give an invited seminar to the Biology Department. The following week, I ferried across the Bay of Fundy to the Society for Marine Mammalogy biennial conference held this year in Halifax. Finally, earlier this week I gave a seminar at Maine Maritime Academy.
These varied opportunities provided a great avenue to share our research with diverse audiences – from students to faculty, and from stakeholders to managers – in diverse formats – from a 4 minute speed-talk to 1-hr seminars. I was particularly excited to speak about cross-border marine mammal issues in both Canada and the US, and I enjoyed meeting many new people as well as catching up with old friends and colleagues. Thank you to Scott Pavey, Jessica Muhlin, and SMM for hosting my visits!
Cammen KM (2017) Molecular perspectives on conservation success: a tale of two seals in the Northwest Atlantic. Maine Maritime Academy Marine Sciences Seminar Series, Castine, ME.
Cammen KM, Vincze S, Heller S, McLeod B, Wood S, Bowen WD, Hammill MO, Puryear WB, Runstadler JR, Wenzel F, Kinnison M, Frasier TF (2017) Genetic diversity from pre-bottleneck to recovery in sympatric pinnipeds in the Northwest Atlantic. 22nd Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Halifax, NS.
Cammen KM (2017) Genomic perspectives on protected species recovery: a case of two pinnipeds in the Northwest Atlantic. University of New Brunswick Department of Biological Sciences Seminar Series, St. John, NB.
This past weekend, 19 undergraduate students from the University of Maine and Dr. Kristina Cammen traveled aboard the Schoodic Ferry from Bar Harbor to Winter Harbor to check out the Schoodic Center whale museum. On the way, (amidst the fog) they spotted harbor porpoise and gray seal, several sea birds, and interesting upwelling patterns. The students also had the opportunity to talk with a professional marine mammal observer, and learn about internship opportunities to do the same aboard the scientific data-collecting ferry next summer. Thank you Kaitlyn Mullen and Frenchman Bay Research Boating for a great day on the water!
The Cammen Lab is seeking a graduate student interested in applying transcriptomic techniques to research questions related to marine mammal health. Example projects may include studying the cetacean stress response to noise exposure or immunogenomics of gray and harbor seals. In our lab we encourage students to explore interdisciplinary, collaborative research opportunities, including participation in lab work, field work, and bioinformatic training. Graduate students will have the opportunity to engage with colleagues in the School of Marine Sciences and Ecology & Environmental Sciences Program, as well as the new interdisciplinary Center for One Health and the Environment at the University of Maine.
Prospective students must hold a Bachelor’s degree in biology, ecology, evolution, genetics, bioinformatics, or a related field. Preferred candidates will have a Masters degree or equivalent experience, and prior experience with molecular analyses. Interested students with prior experience in non-model species genomics are highly encouraged to contact me.
Prospective students are strongly encouraged to apply for external funding, such as NSF graduate research fellowships, and I am happy to help support these funding applications, following initial conversations regarding your research interests and fit for our lab.
Interested qualified applicants are encouraged to email a cover letter and CV/resume to Kristina Cammen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Kristina presented her findings on the impacts of historical bottleneck, recent recovery, and geographic expansion in gray and harbor seals* at the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Ecological and Evolutionary Genomics in Biddeford, Maine. GRC’s are scientific meetings with an explicit focus on cutting-edge research and promoting scientific discussion. This year’s meeting spanned the spectrum from model to non-model system, and from theoretical to empirical. It left me feeling inspired and excited to apply new sequencing technologies and analytical pipelines to marine mammal species in an effort to better understand their ecology and evolution.
*Stay tuned for new publications that summarize this work soon!