School of Anthropology & Conservation

Excellence in diversity Global in reach

Genetics lab research group 2015/16

Conservation Genetics Laboratory

Rooms 118 & 119b, School of Anthropology and Consevation, University of Kent, Canterbury UK


The DICE conservation genetics research team is led by Jim Groombridge and focuses on conservation genetics, genomics, disease ecology and ecological and evolutionary studies involving endangered species, invasive alien species and other wildlife populations, as well as extinct species and reconstruction of evolutionary history amongst species and populations using molecular DNA markers. Jim’s team applies a variety of techniques, including microsatellite DNA markers, mtDNA and nuclear DNA sequencing, RAD-sequencing, quantitative PCR (qPCR) and environmental DNA methodologies. The research also uses more ecological methodologies such as stable isotope analyses, and frequently involves fieldwork and close collaboration with field teams and conservation organisations worldwide. The team work with a wide range of sample material, including blood/tissue samples, 100-200-year-old museum specimen samples, pond water samples (for eDNA), faecal and hair samples. Jim’s team operates from two molecular laboratories; one dedicated to DNA extraction and PCR preparation, and a second laboratory dedicated to PCR amplification and downstream analyses. The facility includes thermocyclers for standard PCR and quantitative PCR as well as UV-hoods in both laboratories for work on low-yield or degraded DNA samples.




Previous members of research group

  • Dr Sarah Anderson, NERC-funded postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Dr Simon Black, DICE, MHC diversity and emerging infectious disease in parrot populations on Mauritius
  • Dr Rachel Bristol, DICE. Ecology, conservation genetics and restoration of the critically-endangered Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher, and a comparison of the evolutionary history of Indian Ocean flycatchers.
  • Claire Browne, DICE, Genetic variation of native white clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) populations across south-east England.
  • Nina Cornish, DICE. Phylogeography and conservation of Jersey's Wall Lizards Podarcis muralis.
  • Dr Steve Green, DICE. Ecology, conservation and commercial exploitation of the 'Hog Island' Boa constrictor in the Cayos Cochinos, Honduras (co-supervisor).
  • Dr Hazel Jackson, DICE. Population genetics of invasive species: characterising population genetic history and disease prevalence in the introduced population of ringneck parakeets (Psittacula krameri) in the UK.
  • Nicola Jenner, DICE and Institute of Zoology. Factors affecting the social organisation of the black-backed jackal Canis mesomelas (co-supervisor).
  • Dr Samit Kundu, DICE, MHC diversity and emerging infectious disease in parrot populations on Mauritius
  • Dr Jim Labisko, DICE, Amphibians on the EDGE: Evolutionary relationships and conservation ecology of sooglossid frogs, in the Seychelles.
  • Dr Hanna Mounce, DICE. Recovery of the endangered Kiwikiu (Maui Parrotbill, Pseudonestor xanthophrys): population dynamics, conservation genetics and strategies for reintroduction.
  • Dr Rob Pickles, DICE and Institute of Zoology. Population genetics and social structure of the giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis). NERC Studentship.
  • Dr Claire Raisin, DICE. Inbreeding, disease, and reproductive fitness in endemic and introduced populations of Psittacula parakeets on Mauritius. NERC Studentship. Collaboration with Mauritius Wildlife Foundation and Wildlife Vets International (CASE partner).
  • Siobhan Simpson - Molecular genetics and infectious disease in red squirrels on Jersey.
  • Dr Simon Tollington, DICE, Inbreeding, immune function and disease in endemic and bird populations on Mauritius. NERC Studentship. Collaboration with Mauritius Wildlife Foundation and Wildlife Vets International (CASE partner)
  • Faye Willman, DICE, Conservation genetics of the endangered Mauritius pink pigeon (Columba mayeri): a global metapopulation approach for long-term genetic management.

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Funding awarded to Jim Groombridge


Translocating conservation success and skills-exchange across four Indian Ocean countries. Darwin Initiative. 1/04/2016 – 31/03/2019



Environmental DNA as an assessment tool for population size estimates of the Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus). Funder: NERC NBAF #948. 27/10/2015 – 26/10/2016.



Genome sequencing of the ringneck parakeet: a genome scaffold for locating adaptive genes. University of Antwerp. 12/08/2015



Conservation genetics of the Arabian leopard; microsatellite genotyping of faecal DNA. Office for Conservation of the Environment, Diwan of Royal Court, Sultanate of Oman.



NERC EnvEast DTP PhD studentship ‘Measuring the effects of supplementary-feeding for population ecologists and biodiversity managers’ CASE Award (Durrell, Wildlife Vets International, Mauritius Wildlife Foundation). Starts October 2015



Reconnecting poverty-alleviation to biodiversity conservation in Kenya's Eastern Arc Mountains. Darwin Initiative. 1st July 2014 – 31st June 2017



PARROTNET: European network on invasive parakeets: Understanding invasion dynamics and risks to agriculture and society.  European Science Foundation, 1/1/2014-31/12/2017



Do parakeets in the UK hold the key to uncovering the genes responsible for climate adaptation? Doctoral Fellowship award, John Spedan Lewis Foundation. 1/10/2013-1/10/16



Development of population genetic markers for the Arabian leopard. Earthwatch                 



Population genetics of the endemic Aldabran Fody and introduced Madagascan fody. Seychelles Islands Foundation. 1/7/2013-16/10/2013 



Determining the evolutionary distinctiveness of the Seychelles black parrot – a phylogenetic approach. Seychelles Islands Foundation 1/9/2013-31/12/2013



A cutting-EDGE approach to saving Seychelles’ evolutionarily distinct biodiversity. DEFRA Darwin Initiative.



Ecology of non-native ring-necked parakeets (Psittacula krameri) in Europe. Funder: University of Antwerp. 26/01/2012 – 25/01/2013



Population genetics, inbreeding and metapopulation management of free-living and captive pink pigeon. Durrell. 26/01/2012 – 25/01/2013.



Use of DNA imagery in Art: DNA sequencing of the endangered plant Stinking Hawk’s Beard (Crepis foetida) for integration into local conservation art by Nicholette Goff.



From genes to environmental change: the spatial ecology of a tropical seabird; University of Reading. 6/4/2011 to 5/3/2012.



Melanocortin receptor 1 (MC1R) genes: systematics and evolution of colour in parrots. University of Kent Faculty Small grant. 21/5/2011-20/5/2012.



Impact of habitat loss on the genetic structure of a declining population of the Mauritius lowland day gecko: implications for conservation. NERC NBAF-S#540. PI: Prof. S. Harris, Co-I: J. Groombridge. 28/9/2009-27/9/2012. 



Population genetics, inbreeding and disease in the red squirrel population on Jersey; JSPCA & States of Jersey. 1/4/2011-31/3/2012.         



Do historical bottleneck effects out-weigh genetic consequences of reintroduction? – a test using Seychelles Paradise Flycatchers. NERC NBAF-S#559. 9/6/2011-8/6/2012.



Invasive species and the ‘genetic rescue’ hypothesis: a test using the introduced UK population of rose-ringed parakeets. NERC NBAF-S#555. 14/4/2011-13/4/2012.    



From genes to environmental change: the spatial ecology of a tropical seabird; NERC NBAF-S#446. Molecular genotyping of satellite-tagged petrels. 6/4/2011 to 5/12/2011.           



Conservation and reintroduction strategies for recovering the critically-endangered Maui Parrotbill (Pseudonestor xanthrophyrys). One of four named PIs on $907,153 US Fish and Wildlife Service SIDS grant.



Phenotypic plasticity and management of native white-clawed crayfish populations. NERC NBAF-S#428. 31/9/2009-30/11/2010.



Is non-neutral genetic diversity retained or lost by island bird populations following severe historical bottlenecks? University of Kent Faculty Small Grant. 1/6/2010-31/5/2011.



Population genetics of native populations of white-clawed crayfish in the UK to guide their conservation management using ARK sites. Environment Agency, UK.



Characterisation of the genomic structure of the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) and T-Cell Receptor (TCR) in the endangered Mauritius parakeet. NERC NBAF-Liverpool Advanced Genomics Facility#258. 1/10/2008-31/9/2009.  



MHC diversity and emerging infectious disease in parrot populations on Mauritius. Leverhulme Trust research project grant. 28/4/2008-27/4/2011.         



The effects of inbreeding on immune function and interactions with disease in endangered Mauritius bird populations. NERC NBAF-S#366. 31/9/2009-30/11/2010.



Effects of inbreeding on individual levels of immunocompetence within bottlenecked bird populations that are exposed to introduced pathogens. NERC CASE PhD studentship. 1/10/2008-31/9/2011.                                                                                         



Investing in island biodiversity: restoring the Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher. DEFRA Darwin Initiative grant. 1/9/2006-31/8/2009.



Radiocarbon dating of feather samples from ancient ceremonial feather cloaks from the Hawaiian islands AHRC/NERC Oxford Radiocarbon Facility Award. 8/6/2006-7/6/2007.        



Population genetics, inbreeding and disease in the endangered Mauritius parakeet. NERC CASE PhD studentship. 1/10/2006-31/9/2010.



Historical genetic profiles for extinct and surviving Hawaiian bird populations: genotyping feathers from 230-year-old ceremonial capes. NERC New Investigators Award. 1/3/2006-31/2/2007.



Searching for evidence of a historical population bottleneck in the Seychelles kestrel by using microsatellites to genotype 120-year-old pre-bottleneck museum specimens. Royal Society research grant. 6/3/2004-8/2/2006.      



Phylogeographic patterns of island radiation: Psittacula parakeets of the Indian Ocean. Research grant from The Systematics Research Fund/Linnean Society of London.



What island biota did Columbus see when he put ashore on the Virgin Islands in 1493? University of Kent Faculty Small Grant.




    * Awards granting consumables/access to NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility - Sheffield/Liverpool hubs
** Award value has increased in line with increasing number of participating EU countries (12 in 2014; 18 in 2015)
*** Total includes all funding, including research studentship awards & RCUK NERC BAF awards

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The group benefit from 2 lab spaces containing excellent equipment for the analysis of genetic materials including:


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Last Updated: 13/10/2017