Jess Hoisington

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Jessica Hoisington
University of Idaho

I am currently attending the University of Idaho in pursuit of a master’s in wildlife resources with a focus in conservation genetics. The objectives of my project are to determine the influence of landscape features on gene flow between populations of the Idaho ground squirrel (IDGS) and evaluate the genetic support for a recent recommendation to raise the two subspecies to species status. This research will provide important information about the ecology and systematics of these Idaho endemics. From an applied perspective, the work is of great interest to Idaho Fish and Game and the US Fish and Wildlife Service because it will be used to guide management decisions for these vulnerable subspecies - the northern IDGS (Spermophilus brunneus brunneus) is listed as threatened and the southern IDGS (S. b. endemicus) is a candidate for listing.

I graduated summa cum laude with a BS from Miami University (OH) in 2005. As an undergraduate I examined the genetic diversity and structure of the fluted-shell mussel. This research on a common freshwater mussel, in combination with similar research on three other species, is being used to determine common patterns of mussel genetics. This has become extremely important as over 70% of mussel taxa are considered threatened, endangered or of special concern.

As a result of both these projects, I believe strongly that examining the genetic diversity and structure of species are important. Management decisions should be based on research from all aspects of ecological research, but especially from genetic studies. This is because current levels of diversity and structure can have a huge impact on the long-term survival of a species. I am currently in communication with managers involved with the IDGS. Through meetings, I am helping managers understand how genetics can help to inform management plans. I hope to improve communication between the scientific community and managers through presentations both within the ecological community and with the landowners affected by the species’ management. This presentation on my current project is planned for late this year after all of my research and analyses have been completed. I am also collaborating with the USFWS in producing a brochure on the northern sub-species for release to the public advocating the importance of this taxa and how the general public can participate in its conservation. I am also a TA in two biology courses to help educate possible future ecologists.

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