Johanna F. Nielsen
Johanna Nielsen has now left ZSL.
- 2008–2012: NERC CASE PhD Student, University of Edinburgh & Institute of Zoology.
- 2006–2008: Research Technician, Institute of Zoology.
- 2005: BSc (Hons) Biological Science, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
- 2001–2004: BSc Ecology & Zoology, University of Otago, New Zealand.
The evolutionary genetics of cooperation in meerkats
Although the evolution of cooperative behaviour has been well explored, very little is known of the genetic mechanisms controlling its development, of the extent to which individual differences in cooperative contributions have a heritable component or of the evolutionary mechanisms maintaining variation in natural populations. The long-term study of Kalahari meerkats has shown that there are large individual differences in contributions to cooperative behaviour and my PhD aims to investigate, for the first time in a cooperative mammal, the genetic basis of this variation.
Chemoreception forms a major part of the interaction between organisms and their environment; habitat and mate choice may generate prezygotic reproductive isolation and ultimately the formation of separate species. My work as a Research Technician with Dr. Bill Jordan involved determining the expression patterns of Drosophila olfactory and gustatory receptor genes and any possible correlations with coding sequence divergence.
Pycnogonids, or sea spiders, are a fascinating and unique group of organisms whose evolutionary relationships have been difficult to determine, even at the highest levels of classification. My honours dissertation investigated the molecular phylogenetics of sea spiders collected from a 2004 Antarctic biodiversity survey (Supervisors: Dr. Shane Lavery & Dr. Anne-Nina Lörz ). Sequence data for four genes from a diversity of Antarctic taxa were used to investigate some of the inter-familiar relationships of sea spiders.
Publications & Theses:
Nielsen, J.F., English, S., Goodall-Copestake, W.P., Wang, J., Walling, C.A., Bateman, A., Flower, T.P., Sutcliffe, R.L., Samson, J., Thavarajah, N.K., Kruuk, L.E.B., Clutton-Brock, T.H. & Pemberton, J.M. (2012) Inbreeding and inbreeding depression of early life traits in a cooperative mammal . Molecular Ecology 21(11): 2788-2804.
Press coverage in BBC , Cambridge News , The Courier & Advertiser, The Daily Mail , The Daily Record, The Herald, i , The Independent , The London Evening Standard , Metro, Newsround , The Scotsman , STV , The Press and Journal and The Western Daily Press.
Madden, J.H., Nielsen, J.F. & Clutton-Brock, T.H. (2012) Do networks of social interactions reflect patterns of kinship? Current Zoology 58(2): 319-328.
Nielsen, J.F., Lavery, S. & Lörz, A. (2009) Synopsis of a new collection of sea spiders (Arthropoda: Pycnogonida) from the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Polar Biology 32(8): 1147–1155.
Nielsen, J.F., Lörz, A. & Lavery, S. (2007) Putting Antarctic sea spiders in their place. NIWA Water & Atmosphere 15(4): 12-13.
Nielsen, J.F. (2005) The Molecular Phylogenetics of Antarctic Sea Spiders (Pycnogonida).
BSc (Hons) Dissertation (108pp.), School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
Evolution & Molecular Ecology
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Wild Evolution Group
Institute for Evolutionary Biology
School of Biological Sciences
The University of Edinburgh
The King's Buildings
West Mains Road
Edinburgh EH9 3JT