Mariah Meek

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Assistant Project Scientist

(530) 752-0802

University of California, Davis
Department of Animal Science
One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616

Curriculum Vitae


PhD, Ecology, University of California-Davis, 2010

Dissertation: Invasion biology of three hydrozoan species in the San Francisco Estuary, CA

B.S., Zoology and Biology, Fisheries Minor, University of Washington, 2000

Research Interests

My primary research interests are in the ecological and evolutionary processes that generate and maintain genetic diversity within and among populations, with an emphasis on applying an understanding of these patterns and processes to problems in conservation and management.

Research Projects


I am investigating the population genomics of the Endangered Species Act listed California Central Valley Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). I am using next-generation sequencing techniques (RAD-seq) to evaluate population structure within the Central Valley and to look for signatures of natural selection across the genome. This work will elucidate the genomic mechanisms leading to adaptive variation in life history traits in Chinook salmon populations. Additionally, I am identifying a panel of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers that will improve our ability to distinguish between the various Chinook salmon run types. This work will improve our understanding of the genomic structure involved in adaptive variation among populations. It will be informative in the management of this imperiled species, including evaluating potential source populations for reintroduction efforts, genetic monitoring of populations in the face of climate change, and identifying juveniles to run type.


Spring and winter run Chinook salmon are listed on the Endangered Species Act and very little is known about the how juveniles from the runs differentially use habitat. Through collaborations with the Dept. of Water Resources, Bureau of Reclamation, and other researchers at UC Davis, I am using molecular techniques to quantify the proportional use of flood plain habitat (the Yolo Bypass) and the mainstream Sacramento R. by each of the spring, winter, fall, and late-fall Chinook runs. I am also investigating the natal origins of the fish sampled to determine if fish from different streams have different migration pathways. This information will aid our understanding of how different populations within the same species partition habitat in space and time, as well as allow managers to better direct restoration and conservation efforts to protect threatened and endangered populations.


There are over 300 species in the United States that are listed as Critically Endangered under the IUCN Red List. These are the most imperiled populations we know of, yet there are many impediments to their conservation and protection, including large gaps in our understanding of how to protect them. In order to identify what the major data gaps are for the conservation of species on the verge of extinction, I convened and organized a special interdisciplinary symposium and workshop on the topic: I am now collaborating with the workshop participants to collate the understanding gained from this workshop. We are working on a manuscript to identify the greatest impediments to the conservation of extremely small populations.


A suite of four predatory hydrozoan species (Maeotias marginata, Moerisia sp., Blackfordia virginica, and Cordylophora caspia) have invaded and become abundant in the San Francisco Estuary (SFE). Our current level of knowledge regarding the basic biology and ecology of these organisms is alarmingly poor in light of both their possibly negative effect on the SFE ecosystem and the increasing trends in jellyfish blooms around the globe. My research seeks to investigate the potential effects of these species on the SFE ecosystem, to determine the key factors allowing successful establishment and spread of these species, and to predict future effects and spread of the invasions. Please see the project page for more information.


Wintzer, A., M. Meek, and P. Moyle. 2013. Abundance trends and diel feeding ecology of Blackfordia virginica (Mayer, 1910), a non-native hydrozoan in the lower Napa and Petaluma Rivers, California (USA). Aquatic Invasions. 8(2): 147-156. pdf

Meek, M., A. Wintzer, N. Sheperd, and B. May. 2012a. Genetic diversity and reproductive mode in two non-native hydromedusae, Maeotias marginata and Moerisia sp., in the Upper San Francisco Estuary, California. Biological Invasions. 15(1): 199-212. pdf

Meek, M. A. Wintzer, W. Wetzel, and B. May. 2012b. Climate change likely to facilitate the invasion of the non- native hydroid, Cordylophora caspia, in the San Francisco Estuary, CA. PLoS ONE. 7(10): e46373. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046373. pdf

Blickley, J., K. Deiner, K. Garbach, I. Lacher, M. Meek*, L. Porensky, M. Wilkerson, E. Winford, and M. Schwartz. 2012. A graduate student’s guide to necessary skill sets for conservation careers outside academia. Conservation Biology. 27(1): 24-34. *Order for first 8 authors determined alphabetically as all contributed equally. pdf

Wintzer, A., M. Meek, P. Moyle, and B. May. 2011a. Ecological insights into the polyp stage of non-native hydrozoans in the San Francisco Estuary. Aquatic Ecology. 5(2): 151-161. pdf

Wintzer, A., M. Meek, and P. Moyle. 2011b. Trophic ecology of two non-native hydrozoans in the upper San Francisco Estuary: implications for the Pelagic Organism Decline. Marine and Freshwater Res. 62(8): 952-961. Cover story. pdf

Wintzer, A., M. Meek, and P. Moyle. 2011c. Life history and population dynamics of Moerisia sp., a non-native hydrozoan in the upper San Francisco Estuary (U.S.A.). Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Sci. DOI:10.1016/j.ecss.2011.05.017. pdf

Meek, M., M. Baerwald, A. Wintzer, and B. May. 2009. Isolation and characterization of microsatellite loci in two non-native hydromedusae in the San Francisco Estuary: Maeotias marginata and Moerisia sp. Conservation Genetics Resources. 1(1): 205-208. pdf