Graduate Student Profile - Devon O'Rourke

Devon O'Rourke, PhD StudentDevon O'Rourke MESB

Molecular and Evolutionary Systems Biology

Advisor: Dr. Jeffrey Foster

Research Topic: Pest management strategies using bat guano as invasive species surveillance tool.

My work involves understanding the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of endemic bat populations. One aspect of this research relies on bat poop (guano) to describe the seasonal and geographic variation in the diets of bats native to New England. Understanding changes in the diversity and composition of insect species consumed by bats can greatly improve pest management strategies, inform conservation efforts, and shape land use strategies of forested areas affected by invasive pests. We pair high throughput molecular tools with next-generation sequencing technologies to quantify which bats eat what insects, when they eat them, and associate these dynamics with changes in community composition.