My PhD research employs molecular genomic tools to investigate relationships between disease transmission dynamics, host dispersal, and landscape structure. The focus of my research is on bobcats (Lynx rufus) in southern California, where the vast urban sprawl has resulted in several distinct, fragmented populations around the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego. These populations persist in relatively intact habitat, but are further subdivided by major roads and varying degrees of urban development.
I am using double-digest RAD-sequencing to characterise bobcat host genomic variation and estimate rates and directionality of dispersal within and between populations. Landscape genomic tools will be used to investigate the influence of landscape structure (i.e. features such as urban development, roads, vegetation, and topography) on bobcat dispersal.
Additionally, I am investigating the transmission of Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) among these populations. FIV is a directly-transmitted retrovirus that infects many felid species, and a species-specific strain is present in the Californian bobcat populations. Its pathogenic effects on bobcats are believed to be minimal, but its characteristics make it a useful model for studying disease transmission dynamics in wildlife. The FIV genome mutates very rapidly, and infection is life-long. This enables the inference of previous transmission events using viral DNA isolated from infected individuals, where otherwise these events would be virtually impossible to observe in a wild population. I am sequencing the genes pol and env, comprising approximately two-thirds of the FIV genome, from infected bobcats to phylogenetically reconstruct transmission pathways within these populations.
These data will help to elucidate the relationship between host dispersal and direct transmission of disease, and how landscape features, especially habitat fragmentation and urbanisation, act on both of these processes, thus aiding our ability to understand and predict the spread of future disease outbreaks.
My previous work used microsatellites to study population genetic variation in Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagles (Aquila audax), specifically on the role of landscape features in influencing dispersal.
- PhD Candidate in Zoology, University of Tasmania (2015-present)
- Bachelor of Science (Zoology) with First Class Honours, University of Tasmania, Australia (2014)
Kozakiewicz CP, Carver S, and Burridge CP (under review). Under-representation of avian studies in landscape genetics.
Kozakiewicz CP, Carver S, Austin JJ, Shepard JM, Burridge CP (2017) Intrinsic factors drive spatial genetic variation in a highly vagile species, the wedge-tailed eagle Aquila audax, in Tasmania. Journal of Avian Biology
- School of Biological Sciences, University of Tasmania Travel Grant (2016)
- Australian Postgraduate Award (2015)
- School of Zoology, University of Tasmania Honours Scholarship (2013)
Invited seminar for the Colorado State University Field Ornithologists’ Club, Fort Collins, CO, USA (2017)
Poster presentation at the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease meeting, Ithaca, NY, USA (2016)
Poster presentation at the Australian Mammal Society Conference, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (2015)
Talk at the Birdlife Australia Congress, Portland, Victoria, Australia (2014)