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Mary Badger

M.S. Student, Ecology

B.A. Biological Sciences, Smith College


Research Interests

I am interested in using novel genomic tools to further species conservation research. In my research, I aim to provide communities and stakeholders with the scientific information needed to make conservation management decisions that benefit wildlife and people in their environment. Before joining the Hull Lab, I worked as a lab technician at the Genomic Variation Laboratory at UC Davis on the conservation of endangered native fish species, such as the Delta smelt and the Paiute Cutthroat trout. Other research experience I have includes using genomic techniques to track the invasion of the non-native European green crab in Maine, monitoring Piping Plovers and Least Terns with Maine Audubon, and authoring a paper on the spatial distribution of marine ciliates in tide pools. I am thrilled to be able to continue using molecular techniques to provide rapid and noninvasive monitoring of wild populations at UC Davis as a master’s student. In addition to my master’s work, I will be using eDNA qPCR assays to detect endangered native mussels in Putah Creek for Solano County Water Agency.


Master's Project

As a master’s student, I am investigating the diet of American
Kestrels, a native raptor species that is declining rapidly across the country. Using a ge
netic technique called metabarcoding, I am sequencing environmental DNA (eDNA) samples collected by swabbing the beaks of American Kestrels hunting in the working agricultural landscapes of the Central Valley collect trace remains of prey items. I will combine the diet data revealed through metabarcoding with GIS crop cover data to elucidate the relationship between winter kestrel diet and land use. The collection of my samples was made possible with the collaboration of local producers interested in methods of sustainable pest management strategies. I will present the data collected in my study to a group of local stakeholders to help inform Integrative Pest Management plans that incorporate native raptors to provide key ecosystem services to the agricultural landscapes they rely on.

Personal Background

Community outreach and mentorship are very important to me. I love
working with undergraduates tha
t are new to the lab or field. I am the co-
chair of the Environment Stewardship Committee for the Society of
Conservation Biology Davis chapter and I lead a team of undergraduates in c
ollecting important phenology data from songbird nest boxes in Davis.
Additionally, I am an apprentice bander at the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory located at the Marin Headlands and assist in the banding and data collection of migratory raptors.

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