Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
2017 Eisenstark Faculty Fellow
PhD, 2001 University of California San Diego
Ecological pressures that shape animal populations
Research descriptionThe development of molecular genetic tools to genotype animals from traces has revolutionized the study of elusive or dangerous animals. Research in the Eggert lab combines field studies, molecular genetic data, and GIS analyses to address questions about the ecology and evolution of these species, particularly those that are of conservation concern.
Current projects include field and laboratory studies designed to provide a better understanding of the evolution of African elephants and studies of the behavior and social structure of forest elephants. In Central Africa, groups of forest elephants visit patches of savanna or forest clearings, allowing for behavioral studies of social group structure, and the collection of dung samples with which we can examine relatedness among individuals. In Kenya, we are working with the African Conservation Centre (ACC) to study savanna elephants that are recolonizing an area from which they have been excluded for decades.
I am also interested in inter- and intraspecific phylogeography. While my previous projects in this area have primarily dealt with the definition of evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) for conservation management, I also use these methods to help us better understand the evolution of traits that may have facilitated the adaptation of species to new or changing environments. New and improved methods of data acquisition and analyses make this an exciting area of research today.
While some of my interests are focused internationally, I am also studying species closer to home. My students and I are participating in a collaborative study of the black bears of southern Missouri, using scented baits to attract bears to hair-snags. The hair samples are used as DNA sources, and we use DNA genotyping to ask questions about the numbers of individuals, the sex ratio of those individuals, as well as whether bears in Missouri constitute a breeding population or are primarily dispersers from outside the state. We are also collaborating with colleagues in the University of Missouri School of Natural Resources in an investigation of correlations between genetic diversity and the prevalence of ecto- and endoparasites in raccoons. We have expanded our work on the horses of Assateague Island National Seashore to other island horse populations along the eastern coast of the US, comparing the ecological and genetic characteristics of populations. We are collaborating with the Missouri Department of Conservation in a study of otters in a number of rivers in southern Missouri, using non-invasive samples to learn more about otter population dynamics and to gain a better understanding of how variance in otter numbers influences prey populations. As part of our study, we developed a model that relates the number of latrines and the number of scats found in latrines along a stretch of river with numbers of individual otters. This will be a useful tool for monitoring populations of this reintroduced species.
Burkhart, J.J., Peterman, W.E., Brocato, E.R., Romine, K.M., Willis, M.M.S., Ousterhout, B.H., Anderson, T.L., Drake, D.L., Rowland, F.E., Semlitsch, R.D., Eggert, L.S. The influence of breeding phenology on the genetic structure of four pond-breeding salamanders (2017) Ecology and Evolution, 7 (13), pp. 4670-4681.
Wilton CM, Beringer J, Puckett EE, Eggert LS, Belant JL: Spatiotemporal factors affecting detection of black bears during noninvasive capture-recapture surveys. Journal of Mammalogy 2016, 97(1):266-273.
Puckett EE, Etter PD, Johnson EA, Eggert LS: Phylogeographic analyses of American black bears (Ursus americanus) suggest four glacial refugia and complex patterns of postglacial admixture. Molecular Biology and Evolution 2016, 32(9):2338-2350.
Puckett EE, Eggert LS: Comparison of SNP and microsatellite genotyping panels for spatial assignment of individuals to natal range: A case study using the American black bear (Ursus americanus). Biological Conservation 2016, 193:86-93.
Peterman, W., Brocato, E.R., Semlitsch, R.D., Eggert, L.S. Reducing bias in population and landscape genetic inferences: The effects of sampling related individuals and multiple life stages (2016) PeerJ, 2016 (3), art. no. 1813,
Peterman, W.E., Ousterhout, B.H., Anderson, T.L., Drake, D.L., Semlitsch, R.D., Eggert, L.S. Assessing modularity in genetic networks to manage spatially structured metapopulations (2016) Ecosphere, 7 (2), art. no. 1231,
Crawford, J.A., Peterman, W.E., Kuhns, A.R., Eggert, L.S. Altered functional connectivity and genetic diversity of a threatened salamander in an agroecosystem (2016) Landscape Ecology, 31 (10), pp. 2231-2244.
Mowry RA, Schneider TM, Latch EK, Gompper ME, Beringer J, Eggert LS: Genetics and the successful reintroduction of the Missouri river otter. Animal Conservation 2015, 18(2):196-206.
Schuttler SG, Ruiz-Lopez MJ, Monello R, Wehtje M, Eggert LS, Gompper ME: The interplay between clumped resources, social aggregation, and genetic relatedness in the raccoon. Mammal Res 2015, 60(4):365-373.
Drake DL, Ousterhout BH, Johnson JR, Anderson TL, Peterman WE, Shulse CD, Hocking DJ, Lohraff KL, Harper EB, Rittenhouse TAG et al: Pond-breeding amphibian community composition in Missouri. American Midland Naturalist 2015, 174(1):180-187.
Feist SM, Briggler JT, Koppelman JB, Eggert LS: Within-river gene flow in the hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) and implications for restorative release. Conservation Genetics 2014, 15(4):953-966.
Eggert LS, Buij R, Lee ME, Campbell P, Dallmeier F, Fleischer RC, Alonso A, Maldonado JE: Using Genetic Profiles of African Forest Elephants to Infer Population Structure, Movements, and Habitat Use in a Conservation and Development Landscape in Gabon. Conservation Biology 2014, 28(1):107-118.
Schuttler SG, Philbrick JA, Jeffery KJ, Eggert LS: Fine-scale genetic structure and cryptic associations reveal evidence of kin-based sociality in the African forest elephant. PLoS ONE 2014, 9(2).
Finch TM, Zhao N, Korkin D, Frederick KH, Eggert LS: Evidence of positive selection in mitochondrial complexes I and V of the African elephant. PLoS ONE 2014, 9(4).
Wilton CM, Puckett EE, Beringer J, Gardner B, Eggert LS, Belant JL: Trap array configuration influences estimates and precision of black bear density and abundance. PLoS ONE 2014, 9(10).
Ruiz-López MJ, Monello RJ, Schuttler SG, Lance SL, Gompper ME, Eggert LS: Major Histocompatibility Complex, demographic, and environmental predictors of antibody presence in a free-ranging mammal. Infection, Genetics and Evolution 2014, 28:317-327.
Schuttler SG, Whittaker A, Jeffery KJ, Eggert LS: African forest elephant social networks: Fission-fusion dynamics, but fewer associations. Endangered Species Research 2014, 25(2):165-173.
Puckett EE, Kristensen TV, Wilton CM, Lyda SB, Noyce KV, Holahan PM, Leslie Jr DM, Beringer J, Belant JL, White Jr D et al: Influence of drift and admixture on population structure of American black bears (Ursus americanus) in the Central Interior Highlands, USA, 50 years after translocation. Molecular Ecology 2014, 23(10):2414-2427.
Peterman WE, Connette GM, Semlitsch RD, Eggert LS: Ecological resistance surfaces predict fine-scale genetic differentiation in a terrestrial woodland salamander. Molecular Ecology 2014, 23(10):2402-2413.
eterman WE, Anderson TL, Ousterhout BH, Drake DL, Semlitsch RD, Eggert LS: Differential dispersal shapes population structure and patterns of genetic differentiation in two sympatric pond breeding salamanders. Conservation Genetics 2014, 16(1):59-69.
Dematteo KE, Rinas MA, Argüelles CF, Zurano JP, Selleski N, Di Bitetti MS, Eggert LS: Noninvasive techniques provide novel insights for the elusive bush dog (Speothos venaticus). Wildlife Society Bulletin 2014, 38(4):862-873.
Dematteo KE, Rinas MA, Argüelles CF, Holman BE, Di Bitetti MS, Davenport B, Parker PG, Eggert LS: Using detection dogs and genetic analyses of scat to expand knowledge and assist felid conservation in Misiones, Argentina. Integrative Zoology 2014, 9(5):623-639.
Hedges S, Johnson A, Ahlering M, Tyson M, Eggert LS: Accuracy, precision, and cost-effectiveness of conventional dung density and fecal DNA based survey methods to estimate Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) population size and structure. Biological Conservation 2013, 159:101-108.
Peterman WE, Feist SM, Semlitsch RD, Eggert LS: Conservation and management of peripheral populations: Spatial and temporal influences on the genetic structure of wood frog (Rana sylvatica) populations. Biological Conservation 2013, 158:351-358.
Alda F, Ruiz-López MJ, García FJ, Gompper ME, Eggert LS, García JT: Genetic evidence for multiple introduction events of raccoons (Procyon lotor) in Spain. Biological Invasions 2013, 15(3):687-698.
Ahlering MA, Maldonado JE, Eggert LS, Fleischer RC, Western D, Brown JL: Conservation outside Protected Areas and the Effect of Human-Dominated Landscapes on Stress Hormones in Savannah Elephants. Conservation Biology 2013, 27(3):569-575.
Faries KM, Kristensen TV, Beringer J, Clark JD, White Jr D, Eggert LS: Origins and genetic structure of black bears in the Interior Highlands of North America. Journal of Mammalogy 2013, 94(2):369-377.
Spatola BN, Peterman WE, Stephens NT, Connette GM, Shepard DB, Kozak KH, Semlitsch RD, Eggert LS: Development of microsatellite loci for the western slimy salamander (Plethodon albagula) using 454 sequencing. Conservation Genetics Resources 2013, 5(1):267-270.
Peterman WE, Pauley LR, Brocato ER, Stuart EC, Semlitsch RD, Eggert LS: Development and characterization of 22 microsatellite loci for the ringed salamander (Ambystoma annulatum) using paired-end Illumina shotgun sequencing. Conservation Genetics Resources 2013, 5(4):993-995.
Peterman WE, Brocato ER, Pauley LR, Stuart EC, Semlitsch RD, Eggert LS: Development and characterization of 18 microsatellite loci for the spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) using paired-end Illumina shotgun sequencing. Conservation Genetics Resources 2013, 5(4):989-991.
Ahlering MA, Eggert LS, Western D, Estes A, Munishi L, Fleischer R, Roberts M, Maldonado JE: Identifying Source Populations and Genetic Structure for Savannah Elephants in Human-Dominated Landscapes and Protected Areas in the Kenya-Tanzania Borderlands. PLoS ONE 2012, 7(12).
Ahlering MA, Maldonado JE, Fleischer RC, Western D, Eggert LS: Fine-scale group structure and demography of African savanna elephants recolonizing lands outside protected areas. Diversity and Distributions 2012, 18(10):952-961.
Peterman WE, Connette GM, Spatola BN, Eggert LS, Semlitsch RD: Identification of polymorphic loci in Ambystoma annulatum and review of cross-species microsatellite use in the genus Ambystoma. Copeia 2012(3):570-577.
Ruiz-López MJ, Monello RJ, Gompper ME, Eggert LS: The Effect and Relative Importance of Neutral Genetic Diversity for Predicting Parasitism Varies across Parasite Taxa. PLoS ONE 2012, 7(9).
Schuttler SG, Blake S, Eggert LS: Movement Patterns and Spatial Relationships Among African Forest Elephants. Biotropica 2012, 44(4):445-448.
Toms JD, Eggert LS, Arendt WJ, Faaborg J: A genetic polymorphism in the sex-linked atp5a1 gene is associated with individual fitness in ovenbirds (seiurus aurocapilla). Ecology and Evolution 2012, 2(6):1312-1318.
Ruiz-López MJ, Chaskelson S, Gompper ME, Eggert LS: Multiple paternity in the american dog tick, dermacentor variabilis (Acari: Ixodidae). Journal of Parasitology 2012, 98(3):498-501.
Honors & Awards
Selected honors and awards
Abraham Eisenstark Faculty Fellow Award in Biology 2017
Purple Chalk Teaching Award 2009
July 27, 2017
Salamanders that breed in the fall are less likely to disperse
Jan. 23, 2017
Recipients of 2017 Faculty Fellow Awards in Biological Sciences announced
Aug. 16, 2016
Many Endangered Species Face Long Waits for Protection
April 13, 2016
MU Biology students shine in 2016 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship competition
Oct. 30, 2015
Biology alum earns law degree, lands job at leading conservation organization
June 5, 2015
American Black Bear’s Nuclear Family Lineage
Nov. 13, 2014
Nov. 13, 2014
Aug. 4, 2014
MU Scientists Call for Increased Conservation Efforts to Save Black Bears
April 22, 2014
Seven from biology take home awards at 2014 Life Sciences Week
Jan. 7, 2014
Prof. Eggert's Study of African Forest Elephants Guides U.S. Research Efforts
July 22, 2013
Black bears return to Missouri indicates healthy forests
May 22, 2013
New study from the Eggert lab shows elephants and humans can get along
Jan. 31, 2012
For the African Forest Elephant, DNA Extracted From Dung Offers Hope for Survival
Dec. 31, 2011
MU Graduate Students Study Elephant Dung to Aid Kenyan Farmers
Dec. 9, 2011
Collaborating for Conservation: An Interview with Dr. Lori Eggert
April 28, 2011
Biology Student Receives Goldwater Scholarship
July 30, 2009
Researchers to study the status of black bears in Missouri