Christopher Yahnke, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
Curator of Birds and Mammals, UWSP Museum of Natural HistoryOffice:
(715) 346-3624Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ph.D., Biology - Northern Illinois University
M.S., Biology - Northern Illinois University
- American Society of Mammalogists (AMS)
- Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society (ΣΞ)
- National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT)
Honors and Awards
||Pucci Family Teaching Award
||The National Residence Hall Honorary
I am interested in questions that address
both basic and applied biology. My first independent research project as
an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee looked at the
effects of migratory waterfowl on the chemistry and biology of an urban
lagoon. I found that the lagoon was heavily impacted by road salt but
little impacted by nitrogenous waste from the waterfowl. At the same
time I collected data on gull predation by peregrine falcons released
into downtown Milwaukee. This led to a seasonal job in the Green
Mountains of Vermont with the U.S. Forest Service studying the impact of
hikers on the nesting behavior of peregrine falcons. This exposure to
research early in my career was vital to my success in the profession of
biology, and I urge all undergraduate students to conduct independent
study as an integral part of their college experience.
My graduate work focused on the systematics
and ecology of neotropical mammals. I've utilized molecular techniques
to extract and amplify DNA from museum specimens of rare and extinct
foxes to better understand their systematic relationships. In the early
1990's there were only a few labs working on “ancient DNA” and I was
fortunate to work in the lab of Dr. Robert Wayne, a leader in the
molecular systematics of canids, at UCLA. We were able to clarify the
taxonomic position of Darwin’s fox as a distinct species endemic to
Chile. While living in the Paraguayan chaco, my wife and I also worked
on a captive breeding project of chacoan peccaries for the Zoological
Society of San Diego. Some of the animals we cared for, as well as their
offspring, are now living at the Phoenix Zoo, the San Diego Zoo, and
most recently the Saint Louis Zoo.
My dissertation research focused on how small
mammal communities are structured in agricultural, successional, and
natural habitats in the central Paraguayan chaco. I investigated the
population ecology of the vesper mouse (Calomys laucha) and its
associated hantavirus Laguna Negra Virus. My results show that
populations of vesper mice grow throughout the dry season and that this
is associated with higher incidence of viral infection. Further,
seroprevelance is higher in agricultural and successional habitats. This
has clear implications for the transmission of the virus to humans. I
have also observed that seroprevelence increases as the relative
frequency of the rodent reservoir increases in the community.
<< Back to faculty page
||Yahnke, C.J., Habitat use and natural history of small mammals in the central Paraguayan Chaco. Mastozoologia Neotropical, 13(1):103-116.
||Yahnke, C.J., Testing Optimal Foraging Theory Using Bird
Predation on Goldenrod Galls. American Biology Teacher, 68(8):464-467.
(Accepted April, 2004)
||Yahnke, C.J., P.L. Meserve, T.G. Ksiazek, and J.N. Mills. Patterns of infection with Laguna Negra virus in wild populations of Calomys laucha in the central Paraguayan chaco. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 65(6):768-776.
||Yahnke, C.J., I. Gamarra de Fox, and F. Colman. Mammalian
species richness in Paraguay: the effectiveness of national parks in
preserving biodiversity. Biological Conservation 84:263-268.
||Yahnke, C.J., J. Unger, B. Lohr, D.A. Meritt, and W. Heuschele. Age specific fecundity, litter size, and sex ratio in the chacoan peccary (Catagonus wagneri). Zoo Biology 16:301-307.
||Yahnke, C.J., W.E. Johnson, E. Geffen, D. Smith, F. Hertel,
M.S. Roy, C.F. Bonacic, T.K. Fuller, B. Van Valkenburgh, and R.K. Wayne.
Darwin’s fox: a distinct endangered species in a vanishing habitat.
Conservation Biology 10:366-375.
||Yahnke, C.J., Metachromism and the insight of Wilfred Osgood:
evidence of common ancestry for Darwin’s fox and the Sechura fox.
Revista Chilena de Historia Natural 68:459-467.|