Valentina Alvarez

Mentor: Dr. James Austin
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
 
"For over a year now, I have been actively volunteering at the molecular biology lab on campus under James Austin. I conduct genetic analyses on endangered species in order to determine a variety of factors regarding the condition of the populations. A project on the Florida Bonneted Bat was in its commencing stages when it was offered to me and, having the skill-sets already in practice to work on this project, I was ecstatic to do it."

Major

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

Minor

N/A

Research Interests

  • Conservation Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Invasive/Endangered Species Management

Academic Awards

  • Jennings Scholarship
  • Doris Lowe and Erna and Verna Lowe Scholarship
  • Jennings Scholarship
  • University Scholars Program 2016

Organizations

  • Phi Eta Sigma Honors Society, FGCU
  • The Wildlife Society
  • Student Honors Organization

Volunteer

  • Research Assistant, Molecular Biology Lab, UF
  • Field Research, Dr. Rob Fletcher Lab, UF
  • Invasive Species Removal, Yungaburra, Australia

Hobbies and Interests

  • Travel/Cultural Immersion
  • Exercising
  • Reading
  • Wildlife Viewing/Hiking

Research Description

Genetic Marker Development for Mating Systems on an Endangered Bat (Eumops floridanus)
The Florida Bonneted Bat is one of the most endangered mammal species in North America with a range restricted to a few counties in southwest Florida, though nearly the entire known population is restricted to man-mande bat houses distributed within the Babcock-Webb WMA in Lee county. The state and wildlife agencies have identified a need to fill data gaps on mating system, overall genetic diversity, and the larger extent of the range of this species in South Florida.

To help fill data gaps, I will develop species-specific microsatellite markers for the Florida Bonneted Bat. Microsatellites are highly variable, non-coding regions of the DNA that provide insight into relatedness, dispersal, genetic effective population size, and levels of reproductive isolation, among other aspects of their ecology.

The objectives of my research project are to 1) develop a suite of microsatellite markers from genomic sequences of Bonneted Bats, 2) use these markers to quantify patterns of genetic diversity within and among the five monitored bat houses at Babcock-Webb WMA and 3) to conduct an array of analyses to determine a variety of aspects of the mating systems of this species.