Dominika Bujnáková, MSc

PhD Student
Mailing Address: 
Ecology & Genetics Research Unit
P. O. Box 3000
90014 University of Oulu
e-mail: firstname.surname@oulu.fi

Research and interests

The loss or even a reduction of any species or populations, reduces the biodiversity and creates a hole in the ecosystem, thus making the ecosystem vulnerable to the external changes such as climate change and habitat fragmentation. The first and the most severely affected are the arctic environments and the organisms living there. From within these organisms, large megafauna, such as large carnivores that heavily rely on these habitats, may be affected the most, as they have been also perceived as competitors and persecuted by us for millennia. Their loss could bring negative changes to the remaining habitats by disrupting delicate and balanced processes. A well-known example are the wolves of the Yellowstone national park and how they brought balance to the ecosystem, once they were re-introduced.

Although, some carnivore populations have been quite extensively studied, such as bears and wolves in Europe, others, for example, wolves adapted to harsh arctic conditions, inhabiting the northern Russian coastline belt, have received very little attention. Tundra wolf (Canis lupus albus), which is a morphologically determined subspecies of the grey wolf (Canis lupus), has never been thoroughly studied in terms of its genetics and adaptations. Therefore, during my PhD I will address the questions on adaptations and will compare the Tundra wolf subspecies to other wolf subspecies while exploring their whole genomes.

I am also involved in two other projects. One concerning the Eurasian wolverines (continuation of master thesis work) and the other concerning Drosophila suzukii invasions across the world.

Profile and background

I did my bachelor’s degree in Ecology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. The topic of my bachelor’s thesis was spatial learning and individual differences. An adequate spatial learning provides individuals with the crucial ability to survive. Understanding the factors determining these differences in amphibians is important for understanding the evolution, retention and loss of such differences in these abilities. Sex-dependent range sizes have been proposed to be the ultimate cause for differences in spatial learning. I tested this range size hypothesis in a Dendrobatid species (Mannophryne trinitatis).

I have obtained my master’s degree at the University of Oulu – Ecology and Population Genetics (ECOGEN). My master thesis was about wolverine (Gulo gulo) historical demography and phylogeography across Eurasia. Only a little is known about their demography in the past and about their demography across most of its Eurasian range. The knowledge of the past population dynamics can help to elucidate the current relationships between the populations, thus providing crucial information for the development of the management plans.