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Norine Yeung,
NSF Graduate Fellow

NSF GK-12 Project: University of Hawaii at Manoa
The GK-12 Program in Hawaii: Using the Native Biota for Science Education
URL: http://www.hawaii.edu/gk-12/evolution/

Thesis Title: Molecular Systematics and Population Genetics of the White Tern (gygis alba)

College/University: University of Hawaii at Manoa

Research Advisor: Sheila Conant

Degree Sought
Masters of Science

University Department and/or Lab

Research Focus
Molecular Ecology of Seabirds

Description of Research
Understanding the genetic relationships and foraging ecology of individuals, populations, subspecies, and species is of academic interest and can provide information that will guide management conservation. My objectives are to evaluate the genetic and dietary patterns observed in White Tern populations throughout the Pacific Ocean by: (a) comparing genetic differences among the three subspecies of the genus Gygis; (b) comparing genetic differences among geographically distant populations within the subspecies Gygis alba candida; (c) determining whether the genetic variation between breeding colonies in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands and Oahu constitute genetically differentiated populations or a single panmictic unit; (d) determining trophic levels of Gygis throughout the Pacific; (e) using museum specimens to detemrine temporal changes in trophic level of Gygis; and (f) comparing stable isotope variation among tissues types (bone, muscle, feather), and within and among feather types to assess dietary variation over different temporal scales.

The population and breeding biology of the White Tern have been relatively well studied. This research will incorporate non-invasive sampling techniques to collect data form both genetic and stable isotope markers which may provide a template to further study ecological and evolutionary processes of other Pacific seabirds.

Example of how my research is integrated into my GK-12 experience
In my research, an interdisciplinary approach is used to understand the ecology of the White Tern. One of my goals as a GK-12 fellow is to use similar interdisciplinary approaches to demonstrate that science is an integral part in all subjects, ranging from art to zoology. Additionally, all disciplines are connected to each other and should be utilized as a network rather than separate entities. The Offshore Islet Restoration Project incorporates a multitude of subjects such as math, botany, entomology, avian biology, geology, and history in understanding the past and present conditions of these islets.

Profile date: June 2007
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