Danielle Gilroy

Conservation Fellow

MBiol Sci (Hons) – University of Sheffield, UK, 2011
PhD Molecular Biology – University of East Anglia, UK, 2015

Dr Danielle Gilroy is working with Chester Zoo to investigate variation in population performance of the Grevy’s zebra, a critically endangered species in Northern Kenya and Ethiopia, as part of a post-doctoral position at the University of Manchester. Below, Danielle tells us more about her previous research and qualifications:

“My academic background is in molecular ecology, using a combination of genetics and ecology to try and answer fundamental evolutionary questions, which have application to conservation. My research used the previously endangered Seychelles warbler (Acrocephalus sechellensis) as a model species to look at different groups of immune genes in the bottlenecked population and link allelic variation with fitness. I have a particular interest in avian malaria and host-parasite coevolution, exploring parasite-mediated selection on shaping the host gene pool.

“Since my doctoral training, I worked as a Senior Scientist for an academic organisation that specialised in running biodiversity monitoring programmes around the world. This exposed me to conservation issues and management strategies at an international scale. It catalysed my passion in using science to inform and drive the protection and maintenance of vulnerable species and ecosystems.

“Over the next two years, I plan to use physiological measures in combination with demographics and habitat characteristics, to try and assess population resilience of the Grevy’s zebra in the wild. By working with the Grevy’s Trust, we will be able to carry out hormone profiling on faecal samples while also developing further physiological tools such as biomarkers of oxidative stress, in an attempt to understand how the zebra population is responding to different stressors in the environment. This could lead to the potential of contributing to the prediction of long-term population viability and advising how the populations will cope if existing stressors continue. Importantly, we are aiming to develop tools that are not only minimally invasive in the wild, but are applicable to a wide range of species of conservation interest.”

This post-doctoral position has been funded by Chester Zoo and the University of Manchester.

Project partners

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Gilroy, D. L., Oosterhout, C., Komdeur, J. and Richardson, D.S., 2016. Avian β-defensin variation in bottlenecked populations: the Seychelles warbler and other congeners. Conservation Genetics, 17(3), 661-674.

Fairfield, E.A., Hutchings, K., Gilroy, D.L., Kingma, S.A., Burke, T., Komdeur, J. and Richardson, D.S., 2016. The impact of conservation-driven translocations on blood parasite prevalence in the Seychelles warbler. Scientific Reports, 6.

Hammers, M., Komdeur, J., Kingma, S.A., Hutchings, K., Fairfield, E.A., Gilroy, D.L. and Richardson, D.S., 2016. Age-specific haemosporidian infection dynamics and survival in Seychelles warblers. Scientific Reports, 6.

Gilroy, D. L., van Oosterhout, C., Komdeur, J., & Richardson, D. S. (2016). Toll-like receptor variation in the bottlenecked population of the endangered Seychelles warbler. Animal Conservation, 20(3), 235–250.

Gilroy, D. L., Phillips, K. P., Richardson, D. S., & van Oosterhout, C. (2017). Toll-like receptor variation in the bottlenecked population of the Seychelles warbler: computer simulations see the “ghost of selection past” and quantify the “drift debt.” Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 30(7), 1276–1287. 

Research Partners:

Dr Susanne Shultz (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Manchester)

Dr Sue Walker (Chester Zoo)

Prof Daniel Rubestein (Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University)

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