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MMA Winter Science Speaker Series: Sara Schoen
"Splitting Up a Complex Mess: Integrating Statistics to Understand the Limnonectes kuhlii Complex"

41% of known amphibian species are declining, but have you ever considered the decline of the species we have yet to identify? As a conservationist, it’s terrifying to think about because we won’t notice until the loss is irreversible. Some species are cryptic, meaning we don’t notice them, others are cryptic because they look almost identical to another species. These similar species can be lumped together into a single species and accidentally create a species complex. Species complexes hinder conservation efforts because the populations seem stable and healthy, but what if they aren’t a single species and we treat them like one? What happens when we lose one? Will we only know what we’re missing when it’s gone or is there another way? The good news, species complex are a difficult, yet solvable problem. We just need some help from statistics to create new tools to delimit species complexes and define clear differences between species. This is the only way to understand declining populations and define biodiversity in an area.

Bio: Sara Schoen received her Masters in Biology from James Madison University. In that time, she determined a novel statistical method for refining the morphometric characters to distinguish and delineate between candidate species. These results and new methods have been recently published, and more papers are in motion to continue to push these new techniques to aid in further understanding the kuhlii complex. Schoen is interested in using statistics to answer biological questions and aiding in conservation of species. Due to this, her projects focus on statistical analysis of big data and allow for her to take part in various research, including her current PhD project to investigate and analyze the Global FinPrint data with an interest in moray eels and barracuda.

Jan 27, 2021 07:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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