Reece Lab

Evolutionary Genetics and Conservation Biology

Current Research

CSU Fresno students are involved in a variety of projects as part of the Reece lab!

Below are brief descriptions of current Reece lab research:

Environmental DNA sampling: This project uses water collected from Sierra foothill streams to search from DNA shed by several target amphibians, reptiles, and fish to identify their presence in waterways. Many of these species are difficult to locate with visual surveys and environmental DNA sampling can allow for quick detection of elusive species. Saramae leads this project and is assisted by several members of the Reece lab. During the summer of 2018, Dr. Reece and lab members assisted Sequoia National Park biologists with stream surveys and eDNA sampling to determine species presence/absence in six different locations.

Morro Bay: This project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the CSU Fresno Biology and Earth and Environmental Sciences departments and aims to assess the effects of coastal dredging and beach nourishment in Morro Bay, California. We are investigating the impacts on the quality and consistency of the sand, the biodiversity of beach macroinvertebrates living in the sand, and the biodiversity of bird species that utilize beach habitat. Shelby leads this project and is assisted by several members of the Reece lab.

Bat Acoustic Monitoring and Soundscape: In collaboration with Dr. David Lent of the CSU Fresno Biology department, Dr. Reece, Rob, Chrisionna, Saramae, and Shelby are working to capture sonograms of echolocating bats to analyze features of bat calls and soundscapes and determine the presence/absence of species. Bat calls are species-specific and contribute to the evening soundscape, albeit outside the hearing range of most humans. Over the summer of 2018, the bat team also worked to assist Sequoia National Park biologists with public outreach, acoustic monitoring, and mist-netting of bats in the park. Currently, the bat team is working to install bat boxes and collect bat calls, soundscape data, and environmental images on CSU Fresno campus to study soundscape and environmental variability that may contribute to what species we see and where.

Western Pond Turtles: Rachel is leading a project in collaboration with the Fresno Chaffee Zoo and several other zoos across California to use DNA sequencing to identify captive western pond turtles to species and a putative geographic origin. Previously thought to be a single species, recent research has demonstrated that there are two distinct species of western pond turtle in California. These two species are morphologically indistinguishable, which makes it difficult for zoos with captive breeding programs to identify which species they have. We want to avoid interbreeding with distinct species that would not otherwise reproduce in the wild, thus identifying the species that zoos have can help inform captive breeding decisions.

Moray eel brains: Dr. Reece is working in collaboration with Dr. David Lent and several students to dissect moray eel brains to investigate how much of their brain tissue is devoted to spatial memory of their environment. Dr. Reece is a moray eel expert and has noticed that they seem to retain higher that normal levels of spatial orientation capability, which makes sense given the complex matrix inside the coral reefs they inhabit. Dr. Lent is an expert on neurobiology of spatial orientation and is directing the students on the brain dissections and analyses.