The Friesen Lab Queens The Friesen Lab
Rebecca Taylor

Becky Taylor, BSc, MSc
PhD Candidate

13rst [at] queensu [dot] ca
(613) 533-6000 ext. 75539

BSc Biology, University of Bristol, UK
MSc Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology, University of Exeter, UK

Research interests

I am fascinated with the areas of evolutionary and conservation genetics. After my B.Sc. I spent two years working as a researcher for a conservation charity known as Wildscreen on their ARKive website. During this time I decided I wanted to move into an academic career path, without leaving my conservation past completely. I am keen to look at genetic mechanisms underlying evolutionary processes and to use next-generation sequencing techniques to achieve this goal, especially on studies with implications for the conservation and management of species.

Ph.D. thesis

The aim of my research is to investigate the genomics of speciation in the band-rumped storm-petrel (Oceanodroma castro), a philopatric seabird. This interesting species seems to be undergoing speciation by allochrony, or separation of populations by breeding time. On many islands this seabird has seasonal populations that breed at different times of year, with populations throughout its range at various stages of differentiation. In fact, one population from the Azores has been named as a seperate species, Monteiro's storm petrel (Oceanodroma monteiroi). I aim to investigate the genetic mechanisms underlying the evolution of this differentiation into seperate populations, and gain a better understanding of the taxonomy of this cryptic species.

Previous work

Always fascinated by the natural world, I decided to study Biology at the University of Bristol, UK, where I began focussing my research in the areas of behaviour and ecology. I undertook a field research project studying the changing species composition of bats with the lunar cycle in Israel, then doing my B.Sc. thesis studying the behaviour of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in the outer regions of their home ranges. Keen to move into conservation, I started work as a researcher on the ARKive project. During this time I would research imagery of many endangered species through networking with scientists, conservationists and photographers from around the globe. I would also edit species information and undertake lots of outreach in schools and across the UK to educate children about conservation.

I realised I wanted to move into academic research, particularly within the field of evolutionary and conservation genetics, and so undertook my M.Sc. with the University of Exeter, UK. I did my main thesis with Dr. Dave Hodgson and Dr. Amber Teacher studying the prevalence and phylogeny of the endosymbiotic bacteria Wolbachia within wild British moths, looking for evidence of horizontal transfer and host association of strains. This further highlighted my passion for genetic research, and led me to move to Queen's University here in Canada to undertake my Ph.D. studying the genomics of speciation in the band-rumped storm-petrel (Oceanodroma castro).