K.VargasSNREKarla Vargas

University of Arizona

School of Natural Resources and the EnvironmentSNRE

PhD student – entered Fall 2014

Major: Natural Resources / Wildlife Conservation and Management

Minor: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Master’s degree

Natural Resources Development – Texas A&M University

Bachelor’s degree

Agricultural Sciences – EARTH University, Costa Rica

My research interests are wildlife conservation, conservation genetics and genomics, and non-invasive genetic techniques. I’m broadly interested in applying genetic methods to problems in conservation biology, with an emphasis on vertebrate species.

My current project ”Phylogenomic analysis of Bobwhite quail in Southern Arizona and Mexico” focuses on reconstructing the evolutionary history of several subspecies of Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) on the basis of the analysis of their genomes (ultraconserved elements) to aid in the recovery efforts of the endangered Masked Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus ridgwayi).

I also work as a Research Technician, which allows me to work with different molecular genetic tools for a variety of conservation genetic projects concerning endangered or threatened populations.

There is a vast amount of data that can be obtained using molecular genetic techniques, which in addition to the ecological, demographic, behavioral, and physiological data collected in the field, can more accurately determine the most effective strategies to sustain species in captivity and the wild. I am convinced that by preserving the evolutionary potential of the most threatened populations, we will secure their reproduction and long-term survival.  The world’s population will continue to grow as it has for the last century; thus, threatening the balance of fragile ecosystems. This reality gives us researchers the motivation to apply groundbreaking science, provide answers to several fundamental evolutionary questions, and translate them into tangible management action in order to maintain functioning ecosystems.