Novia Kayfetz-Vuong

Analysis of Gene Flow Between Neighboring Poison Frog Species in Ecuador

In Ecuador, the Epipedobates clade of poison frogs (Dendrobatidae) have speciated in different climate zones (Tarvin et al., 2017). Poison frogs are aposematic; they possess colorations and markings that serve to warn predators of their toxic defenses. Determining poison frog species can be difficult due to aposematism, as possessing different color and marking patterns does not necessarily indicate a separate species (Tarvin et al., 2017). Thus, genomic level studies are necessary to understand ongoing gene flow, i.e., the introduction of genetic material from one species to another through interbreeding. Advances in next-generation sequencing (NGS) has allowed increased research on how climate change affects biodiversity and gene flow between species. Gene flow studies are important in evolution as they help us to understand the speciation process. The goal of this project is to understand how climate differences affect gene flow among neighboring poison frog species using genomic information. To do this, I will be extracting DNA from over 300 tissue samples and then using restriction site-associated DNA sequencing (RADseq) to quantify and compare gene flow through bioinformatic analyses.

Message to Sponsor

I am very grateful to the Zara fund for allowing me to conduct this research and pursue this opportunity. I transferred to UC Berkeley to gain research experience and I am honored to have been able to achieve this with the support of the Zara fund. This project will allow me to gain independent research experience that will be invaluable for pursuing graduate school in the future.
  • Major: Molecular and Cell Biology, Integrative Biology
  • Sponsor: Zara Fund
  • Mentor: Rebecca D. Tarvin