Master's Thesis Project:
This project is exploring brain shape diversification over evolutionary time within Mustelidae, and whether or not resulting shape changes correspond to ecological variables.
To address these questions, we have a data set of computed tomography scans of mustelid specimens representing 18 out of 65 species from numerous museum collections. I have created 3-dimensional virtual casts of the endocranial cavities (or "endocasts"). A geometric morphometrics approach will be applied to the endocasts to quantify brain shape. This methodology has not yet been applied in any carnivoran family.
(1) Sakai, S., Arsznov, B., Hristova, A.E., Yoon, E., Lundrigan, B. (2016) Big Cat Coalitions: A comparative analysis of regional brain volumes in Felidae. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 10, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnana.2016.00099
(1) Hristova, A.E., Yoon, E., Arsznov, B.M., Lundrigan, B.L., and Sakai, S.T. Big Cat Coalitions: A comparative analysis of regional brain volumes in Felidae. Poster presentation at Society for Neuroscience, San Diego, CA, 10/2015.
(2) Hristova, A.E., Arsznov, B.M., Lundrigan, B.L., and Sakai, S.T. Family Matters: An intrafamily comparison of relative brain volumes within Mustelidae. Poster presentation at Society for Neuroscience Conference, Washington, D.C., 11/2014.