Position: Honours student
My name is Ash Kannan, I am an honours student of Katrina McGuigan. I ventured up to QLD from Sydney after I completed my Bachelor of Animal Science degree to continue my research endeavours. During my degree, I was drawn in particular to subjects relating to conservation biology, molecular biology, and evolution. Charles Darwin has had an incredible impact on my life and has me constantly questioning many aspects of the animal kingdom. Eventually, this led to my deep fascination with the functional significance of adaptation.
I am currently focusing on the mechanics behind evolutionary changes, in particular, genetic variation through mutation. When populations experience an environmental change, appropriate responses have to be implemented to avoid serious fitness losses. A significant contributor to current environmental change is climate change, a phenomenon posing grave risks to species worldwide. Adaptations are the most effective solution to ensure survival and are impossible without genetic variation.
Genetic variation arises through mutations. Mutations have been assumed to predominantly have negative effects on fitness. However, there is the possibility that mutations may have alternative effects on fitness when the environment experiences a change. Studies have attempted to address this possibility, however often, the environmental changes tested have not related to natural variation, making it hard to relate results to threats posed by climate change.
Currently, I am investigating the mutational effects on fitness under changed environmental conditions in model organism Drosophila serrata. Understanding the implications climate change has on biodiversity has always been in my best interest, and I hope to come closer to achieving that through my research.