Ticks are an increasingly important part of Canadian ecosystems and have significant effects on their hosts. My research focusses on description of the bacterial microbiome of 6 commonly encountered species of ticks from across Canada using 16S rRNA. The bacterial microbiome of Ixodes scapularis, I. pacificus and I. angustus ticks is compared to the microbiome of Dermacentor variabilis, D. andersoni and D. albipctus. In order to provide a basis for interpreting regional variation in microbiomes associated with ticks, I will also assess the broad scale population structure of these tick species using genotyping by sequencing. Understanding the population structure of ticks and processes that may contribute to it, such as bird migration routes, contributes to modelling the spread of tick-associated diseases. I will also explore functional hypotheses of processes underlying patterns of microbial community composition within and between tick species.
Prior to starting my PhD, I was and continue to be a board member of the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, and have since joined the board of the Friends of the University of Alberta Museums. I received my BSc (Horticulture) in 1983 and MSc (Entomology) in 1988 from the University of Alberta.