Dr. Patricia Brekke
Research Fellow/Deputy EME theme leader
2013- Present: Research Fellow, Zoological Society of London.
2011-2013: AXA-funded Fellowship, Institute of Zoology.
2009-2011: Leverhulme-funded Post-doctoral Research Assistant, Institute of Zoology.
2005-2009: NERC PhD student, Dept. Life Sciences, Imperial College London.
2002-2004: Research Assistant, Dept. Animal and Plant sciences, University of Sheffield.
1999-2002: BSc. Zoology, University of Sheffield.
My research interests focus on the ecology, evolution and conservation of reintroduced species, particularly, the evolutionary and genetic consequences of reintroduction of wild bird populations. I routinely use pedigrees (quantitative genetics) and molecular tools to understand the role of inbreeding, genetic diversity loss and a species’ life-history traits on their vulnerability to extinction.
Micro-evolutionary consequences of reintroduction:
Reintroduction founding events not only have profound genetic effects, but also evolutionary consequences as the newly founded populations are exposed to a new set of selection pressures. This process can lead to phenotypic, behavioural and genetic divergence between populations. I am interested in how reintroduction alters these life-history traits, in particular sexually selected ones and how species adapt to rapid environmental change.
Historical population structure:
Small populations of island species face a number of genetic threats, but many are relative to their ancestral genetic state. Understanding historical patterns of genetic diversity, range size and structure of these populations can inform current and future conservation efforts on fundamental aspects of the species recovery. I apply molecular tools to historical museum specimens to resolve issues of taxonomic status, detect past levels and changes in genetic diversity and relate these to the modern remnant population structure and diversity. This information has important implications for current conservation and management of modern populations.
Brekke, P., Ewen, J.G., Clucas, G., Santure, A.W. (2015) Determinants of male floating behaviour and floater reproduction in a threatened population of the hihi (Notiomystis cincta). Evolutionary Applications. 8, 796-806.
Dawson, D.A., Brekke, P. Dos Remedios, N., Horsburgh, G.J. (2015) A marker suitable for sex-typing birds from degraded samples. Conservation Genetics. 7, 337-343.
Grueber, C.E., Knafer, G.J, P., King, T.M, Senior, A.M., Grosser, S., Robertson B., Weston, K.A., Brekke, P., Harris, C.L.W., Jaimeson, I. G. (2015) Toll-like receptor diversity in 10 threatened bird species: relationship with microsatellite heterozygosity. Conservation Genetics. 16, 595-611.
Walker, L.K., Ewen, J.G., Brekke, P., Kilner, R.M. (2014) Sexually selected dichromatism in the hihi Notiomystis cincta: multiple colours for multiple receivers.Journal of evolutionary biology 27, 1522-1535
Brekke, P., Cassey, P., Ariani, C., Ewen, J.G. (2013) Evolution of extreme-mating behaviour: patterns of extra-pair paternity in a species with forced extra-pair copulation. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 67, 963-972
Walker L.K., Armstrong, D.P, Brekke, P., Chauvenet, A.L.M., Kilner, R.M., Ewen, J.G. (2013) Giving hihi a helping hand: assessment of alternative rearing diets in food supplemented populations of an endangered bird. Animal Conservation 16, 538-545
Thorogood, R., Armstrong, D.P., Low, M., Brekke, P., Walker, L., Ewen, J.G. (2013) 1995 – present: A 15 year history of ecological research on Tiritiri Matangi Island’s Hihi. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 37, 298
Brekke, P., Wang, J., Bennett, P.M., Cassey, P., Dawson, D.A., Horsburgh, G.J., Ewen, J.G. (2012) Post-copulatory mechanisms of inbreeding avoidance in the island endemic hihi (Notiomystis cincta). Behavioural Ecology. 23 (2): 278-284.
Brekke, P., Bennett, P., Santure, A., & Ewen, J. G. (2011) High genetic diversity in the remnant island population of hihi and the genetic consequences of reintroduction Mol. Ecol. 20: 29-45.
Brekke, P., Bennett, P. M., Wang, J., Pettorelli, N., Ewen, J. G. (2010) Male-biased inbreeding depression in an endangered bird. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 277: 3677-3684.
Wang, J., Brekke, P., Huchard, E., Knapp, L. A., Cowlishaw, G. (2010) Estimation of parameters of inbreeding and genetic drift in populations with overlapping generations. Evolution.64: 1704-1718
Ewen, J.G., Thorogood, R., Brekke, P., Cassey, P., Karadasd, F. & Armstrong, D.P. (2009) Maternally invested carotenoids compensate costly ectoparasitism in the hihi. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106:12798-12802
Brekke, P., Dawson, D.A., Horsburgh, G.J. & Ewen, J.G. (2009) Characterization of microsatellite loci in the hihi, Notiomystis cincta (Notiomystidae, Aves). Molecular Ecology Resources 4: 1255-1258.
Birkhead, T.R., Pellatt, E.J., Brekke, P., Yates, R. & Castillo-Juarez, H. (2005) Genetic effects on sperm design in the zebra finch. Nature. 434: 383-387.
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