2024 Best Student Paper Award Winner

2024 Best Student Paper Award Winner

Isabella M. Reeves is a PhD Candidate in evolutionary ecology based at Flinders University. Her thesis works focuses on using genomic and biochemical tools to understand how the evolution of populations has affected their behaviour and ecology, with a focus on killer whales.

In 2023, Isabella published “Ancestry testing of “Old Tom,” a killer whale central to mutualistic interactions with human whalers” in the Journal of Heredity. This manuscript explores the history of a unique family of killer whales from Eden, New South Wales, Australia. They were recorded for almost a century to cooperatively hunt baleen whales with local whalers. By 1928, whaling operations had ceased, and killer whale sightings became scarce. A killer whale from the group, known as “Old Tom,” washed up dead in 1930 and his skeleton was preserved. How these killer whales from Eden relate to other populations globally and whether their genetic descendants persist today remain unknown. To address this, we used an interdisciplinary approach combining ancient DNA techniques, historical records, and First Nation oral history to provide novel insights into the origin and fate of the killer whales of Eden. Our findings highlight that this relationship is thought to pre-date European colonization by millennia, beginning with the Thaua people of Eden. Old Tom's genomic sequences were compared globally to killer whales, showing a common ancestor with killer whales from Australasia, the North Atlantic, and the North Pacific. He had the highest genetic similarity with New Zealand killer whales, however, most of his genetic variation was not shared with these widespread populations, suggesting possible local extinction. This study rectifies discrepancies in local records and provides new insight into the killer whales in Eden and the history of Australasian killer whales.

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Recent Advances in Conservation Genetics (ConGen Global-2025)


This course will host 25-30 students, especially welcoming to participants from African countries, and 15-20 faculty from around the world.  The course will feature the latest methods, interpretations, and applications of genetic/genomic analyses for the conservation of endangered species, and the faculty will share their expertise in technologies, research strategies, and translation featuring population-based studies.



Genomics of Marine Mammals IV (G4) Workshop

This two-day workshop will be part of the 25th Biennial Marine Mammal Conference in Perth this year, accommodating up to 150 experts and novices. It will focus on advancements in marine mammal genomics, highlighting novel methods and applications in evolution, conservation, and emerging diseases, and integrating genomics with traditional knowledge. 



Resources for Inclusive Evolution Education (RIE2)

Do you want to create interdisciplinary teaching resources for inclusive undergraduate evolution education? The Resources for Inclusive Evolution Education (#RIE2) working group is looking for participants to do just that! Apply now by filling out this google form! Deadline is 5 p.m. PT on May 28, 2024 #ScienceEducation #EvolutionEducation #TeachingEvolution

Please contact inclusive.evoedu@gmail.com with any questions, suggestions, or if you'd like to contribute further to this effort.




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