Lisa Ledger (M.Sc. Student)

Lisa Ledger, B.Sc. (M.Sc. Student)

After completing a bachelors degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Guelph in June 2010, I started graduate work in the Hajibabaei lab in January of 2012. One of the overarching interests of my academic career has been how to use the techniques of lab-based molecular biology to address larger world issues.  In the Hajibabaei lab, I’m doing this through the emerging field of environmental barcoding.

Environmental barcoding offers an alternative to traditional biomonitoring studies, replacing visual identification and taxonomic classification with wide-scale sampling of entire ecological strata and the ability to process this data using next-generation DNA sequencing technology.  By targeting well-accepted DNA barcode sequences we can generate taxonomic data through reference to online databases such as the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD).

In October, 2012 I conducted field research in the tropical dry forest of the  Area de Conservación Guanacaste, in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Province.  With the invaluable guidance of Dr. Daniel Janzen and local parataxonomists and park researchers, I collected soil samples and set Malaise insect traps on three plots of dry forest: primary forest, 90 year secondary succession, and a plot of secondary succession that bordered an actively managed grassland. By measuring and comparing biodiversity across three sites, environmental barcoding will allow us to determine the success of land abandonment in restoring biodiversity to its original state.

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