Sierra Nevada Carnivore Monitoring Team Leader
c/o Rocky Mountain Research Station
800 E. Beckwith Ave.
Missoula MT 59801
E-mail: jtucker [at] fs.fed.us
Genetics Lab Website
B.A. Molecular Biology and Bioethics, Hiram College, Hiram, OH 1998
Ph.D. Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana, Missoula, MT [In Progress]
Co-advised by Dr. Michael K. Schwartz and Dr. Fred Allendorf.
My primary research interest is in the application of population genetics to the conservation of wildlife, particularly through the use of non-invasive sampling techniques.
Since 2004 I have been working with the U.S. Forest Service Sierra Nevada Carnivore Monitoring Program which has the objective of assessing the status and trend of the Pacific fisher (Pekania pennanti, formerly Martes Pennanti) and American marten (M. Americana) in the Sierras Nevada Mountains of California. Due to its small population size, estimated at <300 adults and long term genetic isolation there are acute conservation concerns regarding the long term viability of this population which is currently a candidate for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. The Carnivore Monitoring Program conducts systematic surveys throughout the region to estimate the proportion of sites annually occupied by fisher and marten to detect trends in occupancy over time. Each sample unit includes an array of track plates and remote sensor cameras equipped with hair snares to collect genetic samples.
The use of non-invasive genetic samples to study population dynamics is especially well suited to research on rare and elusive species such as the fisher. Genetic tools provide a unique opportunity to study these rare animals without having to physically capture and track individuals and consequently enable cost effective studies of such species on the landscape scale. The cumulative effects of timber and vegetation management, road construction, housing development, and the many other impacts of humans on wildlife habitat occur over such large spatial scales that it makes it hard to address population viability concerns at the scale of an individual project or forest. The landscape level and range-wide population data obtained through this research will provide valuable information to help guide management decisions by providing a better understanding of the population structure of fishers across the southern Sierra Nevada.
Tucker JM, Schwartz MK, Truex RL, Pilgrim KL, Allendorf FW (2012) Historical and Contemporary DNA Indicate Fisher Decline and Isolation Occurred Prior to the European Settlement of California. PloS One, 7, 12, e52803. PDF
Zielinski WJ, Baldwin JA, Truex RL, Tucker JM, Flebbe PA (2013) Estimating Trend in Occupancy for the Southern Sierra Fisher (Martes pennanti) Population. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management (4) 1: xxx-xxx. PDF
Tucker JM, Schwartz MK, Truex RL, Wisely SM, Allendorf FW (In Review) Sampling affects the detection of genetic subdivision and conservation implications for fisher in the Sierra Nevada. Conservation Genetics.
October 2012. National Meeting of the Wildlife Society. Portland, OR. "Sampling affects the detection of genetic subdivision and conservation implications for fisher in the Sierra Nevada" (Poster)
October 2012. National Meeting of the Wildlife Society. Portland, OR. "The use of new genomic techniques to manage species of conservation interest" (co-author) Authors: Michael K. Schwartz, Rich Cronn, Brian Knaus, Jody Tucker, Keith Slauson, and Kristy Pilgrim
January 2012. Invited. Western Section of the Wildlife Society West Coast Fisher Symposium, Sacramento, CA. "The importance and difficulty of fisher population monitoring"
February 2011. Montana Chapter of the Wildlife Society Annual Conference, Missoula, MT.
"The decline and isolation of fisher populations prior to European settlement: insights from DNA analysis". Award for best Ph.D. student presentation.
August 2010: Ecological Society of America National Conference, Pittsburgh, PA
"Evaluating changes in population connectivity and abundance through time using historical DNA"
January 2009: Western Section of the Wildlife Society Annual Conference, Sacramento, CA
"Using landscape genetics to assess the population structure and connectivity of fisher in the Sierra Nevada"