Dr Nicole White

Thesis title: Molecular approaches used to infer evolutionary history, taxonomy, population structure, and illegal trade of white-tailed black-cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus spp.) in Australia

Overview of PhD research - Chockatoos are charismatic, iconic Australasian birds, yet this family (Cacatuidae) is inadequately understoon from a genetic perspective. The Western Australian white-tailed black-cockatoo (WTBC) has undergone a demographic decline due a combination of anthropogenic induced changes to habitat, poaching and shooting. Through extensive sequenicng of nuclear (nu) and mitochondrial (mt) genes (10 complete mt genomes, 138 mtDNA sequences, and 89 nuDNA sequences), in addition to developing microsatellite markers and DNA profiling 840 cockatoos, the aim of Nicole’s research program was to resolve the evolutionary history, taxonomy, and population structure of WTBC to assist with conservation and management and provide a molecular toolbox for policing the illegal trade and harvest from the wild. 

Nicole White is a post-doctoral research fellow with the Trace and Environmental DNA Lab at Curtin University. In 2012, Nicole obtained her PhD in Biological Sciences and completed a post-doc in Ancient DNA, Conservation genetics and Wildlife forensics at Murdoch University in 2013. Nicole cofounded the Australian Wildlife Forensic Services with Professor Mike Bunce and she has been actively involved in over 30 wildlife forensic cases for which DNA analyses were required. She has core expertise in the analysis of DNA from a variety of biological substrates and has published papers in the field of forensic DNA analysis. Nicole is a member of the Society for Wildlife Forensic Science.

Nicole has a keen interest in the use of DNA technology to address the genetic factors that affect threatened species, the conservation genetic management regimes required to safeguard wild populations and assisting enforcement officers with wildlife forensic investigations. Nicole can be contacted via email at Nicole.White ‘at’ curtin.edu.au


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