Dr. Daphne Gille

Position Title
Affiliated Researcher

California Department of Fish and Wildlife



BS – Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of California Santa Cruz

MS – Organismal Biology, Conservation & Ecology (Emphasis: Conservation Genetics), San Jose State University

PhD – Genetics, University of California Davis


Research Interests

I am broadly interested in using genetic tools to answer ecological questions and to inform management decisions regarding the conservation of endangered species and wildlife populations. My postdoctoral research in the GVL focuses on the development of a population reinforcement strategy and genetic management plan for the federally and state listed species, Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus).


Research Projects


Development of a population reinforcement plan for the endangered Delta Smelt

The Delta Smelt is a state and federally listed species that is facing extinction throughout its native range in the San Francisco Estuary. Given the tenuous status and rarity of wild Delta Smelt, we must consider that recovery may not be possible without population reinforcement using refugial hatchery fish reared at the UC Davis Fish Conservation & Culture Laboratory (FCCL). However, before population reinforcement can occur, experiments are needed to fill critical knowledge gaps about the species.

In a two day workshop, funded by the California Department of Water Resources and organized by Cramer Fish Sciences, agency managers, university scientists, technical experts, and stakeholders from across the nation met to discuss the future of this imperiled species and what experimental questions must be answered to inform possible future population reinforcement. Important next steps to be addressed that were identified by the workshop participants included:

  • Create a structure-based decision model to aid agency scientists in Delta Smelt recovery decisions.
  • Develop a Delta Smelt genetic management plan specific to population supplementation or reintroduction.
  • Expand pathogen screening of cultured Delta Smelt.
  • Optimize physical and genetic tags that can distinguish hatchery-reared from wild Delta smelt.
  • Test if Delta Smelt reared in the hatchery can survive under environmental conditions that occur in the San Francisco estuary (natural food resources, turbidity, salinity, temperature, etc.).
  • Devise an outreach strategy to engage the public in Delta Smelt conservation and recovery.

As part of a multi-agency team, I am currently crafting an experimental work plan and will perform pilot studies to fill the above critical knowledge gaps as we prepare for Delta Smelt population reinforcement.



Gille DA, Buchalski M, Conrad D, Rubin E, Munig A, Wakeling B, Epps C, Creech T, Crowhurst R, Holton B, Monello R, Boyce W, Penedo C, Ernest H. Genetic outcomes of translocation of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) in Arizona. In internal review (planned submission to Journal of Wildlife Management)

Gille DA, Van Eenennaam JP, Famula TR, May BP, Schreier AD, Beer K, Struffenegger P, Renschler B, Bishop S, Doroshov SI. 2017. Finishing diet, genetics, and other culture conditions affect ovarian adiposity and caviar yield in cultured white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus). Aquaculture, 474:121-129.

Buchalski MR, Sacks BN, Gille DA, Penedo MCT, Ernest HB, Morrison SA, Boyce WM. 2016. Phylogeographic and population genetic structure of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) in North American deserts. Journal of Mammalogy, gyw011.

Meek MH, Wells C, Tomalty KM, Ashander J, Cole EM, Gille DA, Putman BJ, Rose JP, Savoca MS, Yamane L, Hull JM. 2016. We should not be afraid to talk about fear of failure in conservation. Biological Conservation, 194:218-219.

Domen J, Christensen JL, Gille D, Smith-Berdan S, Fong T, Brown JMY, Sedello AK. 2016. Cryopreserved ex vivo-expanded allogeneic myeloid progenitor cell product protects neutropenic mice from a lethal fungal infection. Cell Transplantation, 25:17-33.

Meek MH, Wells C, Tomalty KM, Ashander J, Cole EM, Gille DA, Putman BJ, Rose JP, Savoca MS, Yamane L, Hull JM, Rogers DL, Rosenblum EB, Shogren JF, Swaisgood RR, May B. 2015. Fear of failure in conservation: the problem and potential solutions to aid conservation of extremely small populations. Biological Conservation, 184:209-217.

Buchalski MR, Navarro AY, Boyce WM, Vickers TW, Tobler MW, Nordstrom L, Garcia JA, Gille DA, Penedo MCT, Ryder OA, Ernest HB. 2015. Genetic population structure of Peninsular bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) indicates substantial gene flow across US-Mexico border. Biological Conservation, 184:218-228.

Gille DA, Famula TR, May BP, Schreier AD. 2015. Evidence for a maternal origin of spontaneous autopolyploidy in culture white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus). Aquaculture, 435:467-474.

Schreier AD, May B, Gille DA. 2013. Incidence of spontaneous autopolyploidy in cultured populations of white sturgeon, Acipenser transmontanus. Aquaculture, 416:141-145.

Singh VK, Christensen J, Fatanmi OO, Gille D, Ducey EJ, Wise SY, Singh PK, Karsunky H, Sedello AK. 2012. Myeloid progenitors: a radiation countermeasure that is effective when initiated days after irradiation. Radiation Research, 177:781-791.

Drauch Schreier A, Gille DA, Mahardja B, May B. 2011. Neutral markers confirm the octoploid origin and reveal spontaneous polyploidy in white sturgeon, Acipenser transmontanus. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 27(Suppl. 2):24-33.

Gille DA. 2012. Genetic population structure and cryptic speciation of ghost shrimp (Neotrypaea californiensis) in North American west coast estuaries. Master’s Theses. Paper 4243.

Smith-Berdan S, Gille D, Weissman IL, Christensen, JL. 2007. Reversal of autoimmune disease in lupus-prone NZB/NZW mice by nonmyeloablative transplantation of purified allogeneic hematopoietic stem cells. Blood, 110:1370-1378.