MISS TANJA SCHWANCK
M.Sc. Biodiversity, B.A. Biology & Media Studies
By observing marine biodiversity on several expeditions in my undergraduate studies at the Ruhr-University Bochum, I became interested in dispersal and migration of marine animals and how environmental changes and anthropogenic influences might shape gene flow and cause isolation. I came into touch with genetic tools in my bachelor’s thesis, investigating the genotypic variability of two species of fire corals. During my master's programme at the Ruhr-University Bochum and University Duisburg-Essen, I learned more about biodiversity from a historical, genetic and ecological perspective. Internships at the University of Porto and at the Cape Eleuthera Institute allowed me to experience fieldwork and monitoring of cetaceans and elasmobranchs. I continued exploring genetics for conservation research by conducting my master's thesis investigating population connectivity in southern stingrays, which also led to my passion for batoids. Currently, I'm a PhD candidate supervised by Dr. Cath Jones investigating the population connectivity of a critically endangered skate species with focus on a Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area in west Scotland.
Student Ambassador at the School of Biological Sciences (June 2021 - present)
Student's representative on the PGR Student Staff Liaison Committee (2018 - present)
Student's representative for SBS at the Postgraduate Research School (2020 - present)
Former committee member of the Zoo & Roots Society (2018 - 2019)
I'm very interested in population structures, distribution and life history of aquatic vertebrates, especially elasmobranchs and cetaceans. Until now I focused on population genetics and phylogeny to approach evolutionary and ecological questions. I aim to do research that would enable an evaluation of the efficiency or need of conservation management to endangered populations, which is why I found myself in the field of conservation genetics.
Currently, I am investigating the efficacy of a Scottish Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area (MPA) to its designated species, the critically endangered flapper skate Dipturus intermedius. I am utilising mitochondrial DNA as well as genomic approaches (RADseq) to study genetic diversity, philopatry and historical connectivity between the MPA and other sites in the Northeast Atlantic as well as potential adaptive patterns. By revealing parent-offspring and sibling relations, we hope to learn more about contemporary connectivity and this species' life history. We aim to generate useful information for conservation management to support the protection of not only the species but also its genetic diversity, which ensures its long-term persistence. This research project is mainly funded by NatureScot, with additional funding from the Save Our Seas Foundation, the Fisheries Society of the British Isles and the Genetics Society.
- Talk "Population connectivity and gene flow among Hypanus americanus in the central and western Bahamas", YOUMARES conference, Oldenburg, Germany (2018)
- Poster "Low genetic diversity and connectivity in a critically endangered batoid population residing in a Scottish marine protected area", 4th Annual Meeting in Conservation Genetics, Frankfurt, Germany (2020)
- Talk "Mitochondrial haplotypes reveal low diversity and connectivity in a critically endangered batoid population residing in a Scottish Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area", 17th MBA Postgraduate conference, Exeter/virtual, UK (2021)
My current research is happening in collaboration with NatureScot, researchers at the University of St. Andrews, the Nord University and the Orkney Skate Trust.
Funding and Grants
- NatureScot PhD Studentship 2018-2021
- FSBI Small Grant 2020-2021 "Mitogenomic diversity and structure of a critically endangered skate"
Save our Seas Foundation Small Grant 2020-2022 "Flapper skate family ties"
- Involved in the Save our Seas Keystone Grant 2020-2023 "Genetic monitoring tool for North-east Atlantic elasmobranchs to assist conservation and management"
- FSBI Travel Grant to present at the 6th International Marine Connectivity Conference 2021 (upcoming)
Travel stipend to present a poster at the 4th Annual Meeting in Conservation Genetics 2020 (completed)
Genetics Society Heredity Fieldwork Grant 2020 "Direct reproductive connectivity of critically endangered flapper skates inferred from kinship relations" (completed, report in newsletter issue 84, page 57)
Genetics Society Training Grant for "Adaption Genomics" (completed)
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The critically endangered flapper skate (Dipturus intermedius): Recommendations from the first flapper skate working group meetingMarine Policy, vol. 124, 104367Contributions to Journals: Articles
Endangered Coastal Elasmobranchs of the North-East AtlanticReference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences. Elsevier, 10 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
Linking local movement and molecular analysis to explore philopatry and population connectivity of the southern stingray Hypanus americanusJournal of Fish Biology, vol. 96, no. 6, pp. 1475-1488Contributions to Journals: Articles
The complete mitochondrial genome of the blue skate Dipturus batisMitochondrial DNA Part B: Resources, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 2488-2489Contributions to Journals: Articles