The G-CAT for #MyScienceMay

So it might have been a hot minute since I’ve posted (sorry about that!). But rest assured, new content is in the works, and will be up shortly. In the meantime, however, I’m delighted to announce that not only will I be participating in the science communication event #MyScienceMay (as organised by Avid Research and Let’s Talk SciComm), but that The G-CAT is now live on Instagram! You can check me out @thegeneticscat, where I’ll be posting a combination of brief insights into my research; short summaries of relevant conservation genetics topics; animal facts and wildlife photography; and more of my day-to-day.

That’s not to say the long-form blog approach is going anywhere: I still very much enjoy writing these lengthier, more descriptive posts. But the Instagram will provide some bite-sized content in between the longer posts to provide more regular and easily digestible information (that’s the aim, anyway).

With that said, I hope you’ll tune in throughout May to see what I’ve been up to and my current projects. I’ll be alternating context between Instagram and my Twitter (@fishlogeography), but may attempt to collate it all here somewhere.

A tale of two fishes: how standing genetic diversity influences species responses to environmental change

How can species respond to environmental change?

If you’re a somewhat avid (or even cursory) reader of The G-CAT, you may remember my wrap-up post at the conclusion of my PhD in 2020 which described the various chapters of my thesis. Well, I’m pleased to announce that data chapter 2 of that thesis – on the comparative phylogeography of two threatened Australian freshwater fishes – has just been published in the journal BMC Ecology and Evolution. It’s a pretty complex paper which tackles genetic diversity, phylogenetics, demographic history, species distribution models and how these interact together to understand the evolutionary history of these species in a comparative framework. Feel free to check it out (it’s open access and free to read!) here.

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Conservation applications of functional variation

From genotype to phenotype

One fundamental aspect of conservation and evolution research is the implicit connection between genetic variation, phenotypic characteristics, and their influence on Darwinian fitness. Genetic diversity underpins many aspects of the adaptive potential of a population, and many of the fundamental concepts of the field rely on the assumed connection between genetic and phenotypic characteristics. But this connection is neither straightforward, nor always predictable.

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Building Blueprints – How to assemble a genome

The utility of a reference genome

In the 18 years since the completion of the Human Genome Project, the practicality of assembling full genomes for a wide range of taxa beyond ourselves has only improved. While model taxa systems have achieved genomes before many others, it is now possible for whole genomes to be assembled for a range of non-model organisms as well. But how do we assemble the genome of a species for the very first time (often de novo – literally “from the new”)? What can we do with this genome? Why is it so useful? Let’s delve into the process and outcomes of genome assembly a little more.

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