Biology

Eve McCulloch

Part-Time Assistant Professor of Biology

Areas of expertise

Ecology, evolution, population & landscape genetics, science policy, conservation biology



I am interested in using genetic tools to address current issues in conservation science. I would like to know how human alternations of the environment—due to urbanization, habitat fragmentation, climate change or other factors—affects species, and what implication this has for the future. I believe we urgently need to understand the impact of human modifications for long-term population viability, and ultimately, the maintenance of biodiversity—and I think the ever-expanding genetic toolkit will help us do that.


Education

PhD, Louisiana State University 2012
BA, University of Texas at Austin 2004

Positions

Science & Public Affairs Writer
American Institute of Biological Sciences
June 01, 2013 - present
I bring my scientific and technical expertise to bear on public policy topics. My purpose is to apply scientific knowledge by bridging the gap between scientists, the public and policymakers. I have engaged in many aspects of policy work, including attending briefings and committee hearings on Capitol Hill, helping to arrange briefings, participating in strategic meetings with NGOs, and writing for the bi-monthly AIBS Public Policy Report. My primary responsibilities are writing reports intended for policy-makers, publishing science articles intended for public consumption, and managing press releases and similar documents.

Courses: Spring 2014

Landscape and Conservation

Research

Genetic variation can provide insight into mechanisms governing the distribution and structure of natural populations, and population responses to environmental change, which in turn can have important consequences for the maintenance of species diversity. At Louisiana State University, I studied genetic variation of a seed-dispersing bat, Artibeus lituratus (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae), in a heterogeneous landscape in South America, with the objective of understanding environmental and spatial forces responsible for the distribution and dynamics of populations.

designed thousands of primers to amplify microsatellite loci for A. lituratus, for which no markers were previously available.  I tested the performance of a subset of these microsatellites on A. lituratus and 6 related phyllostomid species. Advances in sequencing technology and bioinformatics make it possible to rapidly and affordably develop a large number of genetic markers. This is exciting because with many genetic markers available, researchers and land-managers can track population dynamics, both temporally and spatially, with a level of resolution never before possible.

I used these microsatellite markers to compare genetic structure in highly fragmented Alto Paraná Atlantic forest in eastern Paraguay to that in mostly contiguous forest in neighboring Misiones, Argentina. Further, I compared observed genetic structure across the fragmented landscape with levels of structure expected under different degrees of reduction in gene flow using realistic spatially explicit simulations. Results indicated that observed genetic structure was consistent with regular long-distance dispersal, high migration rates and a low effect of fragmentation. Moreover, simulation models and power tests allowed me to rule out the possibility that these results were simply a consequence of lack of statistical power.

Finally, I used multivariate statistics to determined unique and shared effects of forest configuration (at 5 spatial scales), environmental characteristics, and spatial factors on the distribution of genetic variation across the landscape. I processed Landsat 7 satellite imagery in ArcView to characterize forest remnants in the study area. I demonstrated that environmental factors and fragmentation at intermediate scales strongly accounted for variation in genetic diversity. In contrast, almost no variation in genetic structure was explained. Results were consistent with high levels of gene flow delaying reduction in population connectivity, and strong influence of environment and fragmentation on genetic diversity, potentially mediated via population size. These findings indicated the importance of accounting for effects of multiple demographic processes, and at multiple spatial scales. As a whole, for my research I developed and used high quality genetic data to study how populations respond to landscape alterations and natural environmental heterogeneity.

Additional research interests include ecological genomics -- there is some fascinating research coming out of the Whitehead lab at University of California at Davis, for example -- and many areas of conservation research and practice. I am also very interested in science communication, specifically science policy and scientific teaching.

Further information on bats, the Atlantic forest, and ecological research can be found at the Stevens lab at Louisiana State University (soon moving to Texas Tech).

 

 

 


Publications

Eve S. McCulloch. Harnessing the power of Big Data in biological research. 2013. BioScience. In press.

 

Eve S. McCulloch, J. Sebastián Tello, Andrew Whitehead, Claudia María José Rolón-Mendoza, Mario César D. Maldonado-Rodríguez, and Richard D. Stevens. Fragmentation of Atlantic Forest has not affected gene flow of a widespread seed-dispersing bat. 2013. Molecular Ecology. EarlyView.

 

Lorelei Patrick, Eve S. McCulloch, and Luis A. Ruedas. Systematics and phylogeography of the arcuate horseshoe bat species complex (Chiroptera: Rhinolophidae). 2013. Zoologica Scripta. In press.

 

Eve S. McCulloch. Balancing Privacy and Progress: Biobanks and Genome Sequencing. 2013. BioScience 63: 333. Retrieved from http://www.aibs.org/washington-watch/washington_watch_2013_05.html.

 

Richard D. Stevens, Mary E. Johnson, Eve S. McCulloch. Absolute and relative secondary-sexual dimorphism in wing morphology: a multivariate test of the “Big Mother” hypothesis. 2013. Acta Chiropterologica 15(1):163-170.

 

Eve S. McCulloch. Biological Specimens Go Online: The New Digital Frontier of Collections. 2012. National Science Collections Alliance. Retrieved from http://nscalliance.org/?p=597.

 

Eve S. McCulloch. Environmental and Landscape Determinants of Population Genetic Structure and Diversity of the Great Fruit-Eating Bat, Artibeus lituratus, in Atlantic Forest Remnants in South America. 2012. Louisiana State University Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Collection. Retrieved from http://etd.lsu.edu/docs/available/etd-10292012-130643/.

 

Heidi J. T. Pagán, Ji?í Macas, Petr Novák, Eve S. McCulloch, Richard D. Stevens, and David A. Ray. Survey sequencing reveals elevated DNA transposon activity, novel elements, and variation in repetitive landscapes among vesper bats. 2012. Genome Biology and Evolution 4(4): 1-11.

 

P. R. Meganathan, Heidi. J. T. Pagán, Eve S. McCulloch, Richard D. Stevens, and David A. Ray. Complete mitochondrial genome sequences of three bats species and whole genome mitochondrial analyses reveal patterns of codon bias and lend support to a basal split in Chiroptera. 2012. Gene 492(1): 121-129.

 

Eve S. McCulloch, and Richard D. Stevens. Rapid development and screening of microsatellite loci for Artibeus lituratus and their utility for 6 related species within Phyllostomidae. 2011. Molecular Ecology Resources 11(5): 903-913.

 

Richard D. Stevens, Celia López-González, Eve S. McCulloch, and Flavia Netto. Myotis levis (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire) indeed occurs in Paraguay. 2010. Mastozoologia Neotropical 17:195-200.

 

In preparation:

 

Eve S. McCulloch, Andrew Whitehead, J. Sebastián Tello, Claudia María José Rolón-Mendoza, Mario César D. Maldonado-Rodríguez, and Richard D. Stevens. Spatial, environmental, and fragmentation effects on genetic diversity and composition of a seed-dispersing bat in Atlantic Forest of South America. In preparation for Conservation Biology.


Seminars & Presentations

Eve S. McCulloch. “Echoes in the night: The biology of bats.” Austin Center for Inquiry Meetup Group: Food for Thought lecture series. Austin, Texas. 15 July 2013.

Eve S. McCulloch. “Bridging the Gap: Communication Between Scientists and Policy-makers.” 93rd annual meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 14-18 June 2013.

Eve S. McCulloch. “Environmental and landscape determinants of population genetic structure and diversity of the great fruit-eating bat, Artibeus lituratus, in Atlantic forest remnants in South America”. Louisiana State University Dpt. of Biological Sciences: Division of Systematics, Ecology and Evolution. Departmental Exit Seminar. Baton Rouge, LA. 27 August 2012. 

Eve S. McCulloch, Richard Stevens, and Andrew Whitehead. “Population genetic structure of the great fruit-eating bat (Artibeus lituratus) in Atlantic forest remnants in South America”. 96th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Austin, Texas. 7-12 August 2011.

Eve S. McCulloch, Richard Stevens, and Andrew Whitehead. “Genetic structure of the great fruit-eating bat (Artibeus lituratus) in Atlantic forest remnants in South America”. 90th annual meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists. Laramie, Wyoming. 11-15 June 2010.

Pastor E. Pérez, Noe de la Sancha, Mario Maldonado and Eve S. McCulloch. “An evaluation of small mammals fauna of the Reserva Natural Morombi, Canindeyu-Paraguay”. International Mammal Congress. Mendoza, Argentina. August 2009.

Eve S. McCulloch. “Habitat fragmentation and the role of bats in forest ecosystems”. Centro Cultural Paraguayo Americano (CCPA): English Conversation Club, Environmental Issues Section. Asuncion, Paraguay. May 2009.

Eve S. McCulloch. “Genetic structure and morphology of Artibeus lituratus in a fragmented landscape”. Louisiana State University Dpt. of Biological Sciences: Division of Systematics, Ecology and Evolution. Departmental Entrance Seminar (BIOL 7921). Baton Rouge, LA. 3 November 2008.