Andrew J. Shirk

University of Washington Seattle, Seattle, Washington, United States

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Publications (16)81.73 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) is a seabird in the family Alcidae that forages in nearshore waters of the Pacific Northwest, and nests in adjacent older-forest conifers within 80 km of shore. The species is of conservation concern due to habitat loss and declining numbers, and is listed as threatened in British Columbia, Canada and in the United States portion of its range south of Canada. Recent monitoring in the United States indicated that murrelet numbers continued to decline there, especially in the waters of Washington State. To better understand this decline, and to inform conservation planning for the species, we evaluated how terrestrial and marine factors influence the distribution and abundance of the murrelet in coastal waters, including whether at-sea hotspots of murrelet abundance exist. Murrelet at-sea abundance and distribution were determined by surveys conducted annually from 2000 to 2012 in coastal waters from the United States-Canada border south to San Francisco Bay. We summarized mean and variance of murrelet density at the scale of 5-km segments of coastal waters throughout this area. We used a boosted regression tree analysis to investigate the contributions of a suite of marine and terrestrial attributes to at-sea murrelet abundance in each segment. We observed several regional hotspots of higher murrelet abundance at sea. Terrestrial attributes made the strongest contribution, especially the amount and cohesiveness of suitable nesting habitat in proximity to each segment, whereas marine attributes explained less of the spatial and temporal variation in murrelet abundance. At-sea hotspots of murrelet abundance therefore reflect not only suitable marine foraging habitat but primarily the proximity of suitable inland nesting habitat.
    Journal of Marine Systems 01/2014; · 2.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Little is known about how variation in landscape mosaics affects genetic differentiation. The goal of this paper is to quantify the relative importance of habitat area and configuration, as well as the contrast in resistance between habitat and non-habitat, on genetic differentiation. We hypothesized that habitat configuration would be more influential than habitat area in influencing genetic differentiation. Population size is positively related to habitat area, and therefore habitat area should affect genetic drift, but not gene flow. In contrast, differential rates and patterns of gene flow across a landscape should be related to habitat configuration. Using spatially explicit, individual-based simulation modeling, we found that habitat configuration had stronger relationships with genetic differentiation than did habitat area, but there was a high degree of confounding between the effects of habitat area and configuration. We evaluated the predictive ability of six widely used landscape metrics and found that patch cohesion and correlation length of habitat are among the strongest individual predictors of genetic differentiation. Correlation length, patch density and clumpy are the most parsimonious set of variables to predict the magnitude of genetic differentiation in complex landscapes. KeywordsLandscape genetics–Area–Configuration–Fragmentation–Limiting factors–CDPOP–Simulation–Thresholds
    Landscape Ecology 01/2012; 27(3):369-380. · 2.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Landscapes may resist gene flow and thereby give rise to a pattern of genetic isolation within a population. The mechanism by which a landscape resists gene flow can be inferred by evaluating the relationship between landscape models and an observed pattern of genetic isolation. This approach risks false inferences because researchers can never feasibly test all plausible alternative hypotheses. In this paper, rather than infer the process of gene flow from an observed genetic pattern, we simulate gene flow and determine if the simulated genetic pattern is related to the observed empirical genetic pattern. This is a form of inverse modeling and can be used to independently validate a landscape genetic model. In this study, we used this approach to validate a model of landscape resistance based on elevation, landcover, and roads that was previously related to genetic isolation among mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) inhabiting the Cascade Range, Washington (USA). The strong relationship between the empirical and simulated patterns of genetic isolation we observed provides independent validation of the resistance model and demonstrates the utility of this approach in supporting landscape genetic inferences.
    International Journal of Ecology. 01/2012; 2012.
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    A J Shirk, S A Cushman
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    ABSTRACT: Anthropogenic landscape changes have greatly reduced the population size, range and migration rates of many terrestrial species. The small local effective population size of remnant populations favours loss of genetic diversity leading to reduced fitness and adaptive potential, and thus ultimately greater extinction risk. Accurately quantifying genetic diversity is therefore crucial to assessing the viability of small populations. Diversity indices are typically calculated from the multilocus genotypes of all individuals sampled within discretely defined habitat patches or larger regional extents. Importantly, discrete population approaches do not capture the clinal nature of populations genetically isolated by distance or landscape resistance. Here, we introduce spatial Genetic Diversity (sGD), a new spatially explicit tool to estimate genetic diversity based on grouping individuals into potentially overlapping genetic neighbourhoods that match the population structure, whether discrete or clinal. We compared the estimates and patterns of genetic diversity using patch or regional sampling and sGD on both simulated and empirical populations. When the population did not meet the assumptions of an island model, we found that patch and regional sampling generally overestimated local heterozygosity, inbreeding and allelic diversity. Moreover, sGD revealed fine-scale spatial heterogeneity in genetic diversity that was not evident with patch or regional sampling. These advantages should provide a more robust means to evaluate the potential for genetic factors to influence the viability of clinal populations and guide appropriate conservation plans.
    Molecular Ecology Resources 06/2011; 11(5):922-34. · 7.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Populations in fragmented landscapes experience reduced gene flow, lose genetic diversity over time and ultimately face greater extinction risk. Improving connectivity in fragmented landscapes is now a major focus of conservation biology. Designing effective wildlife corridors for this purpose, however, requires an accurate understanding of how landscapes shape gene flow. The preponderance of landscape resistance models generated to date, however, is subjectively parameterized based on expert opinion or proxy measures of gene flow. While the relatively few studies that use genetic data are more rigorous, frameworks they employ frequently yield models only weakly related to the observed patterns of genetic isolation. Here, we describe a new framework that uses expert opinion as a starting point. By systematically varying each model parameter, we sought to either validate the assumptions of expert opinion, or identify a peak of support for a new model more highly related to genetic isolation. This approach also accounts for interactions between variables, allows for nonlinear responses and excludes variables that reduce model performance. We demonstrate its utility on a population of mountain goats inhabiting a fragmented landscape in the Cascade Range, Washington.
    Molecular Ecology 09/2010; 19(17):3603-19. · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mutation of the SIMPLE gene (small integral membrane protein of the lysosome/late endosome) is the molecular basis of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1C (CMT1C), a demyelinating peripheral neuropathy. Although the precise function of SIMPLE is unknown, prior reports suggest it localizes to the lysosome/late endosome. Furthermore, murine Simple interacts with Nedd4 (neural precursor cell expressed, developmentally downregulated 4), an E3 ubiquitin ligase that is important for regulating lysosomal degradation of plasma membrane proteins. To bring insights into the biochemical function of human SIMPLE, we confirmed that human SIMPLE interacts with NEDD4 and also report a novel interaction with tumor susceptibility gene 101 (TSG101), a class E vacuolar sorting protein. TSG101 is known to function downstream of NEDD4, sorting ubiquitinated substrates into multivesicular bodies (MVBs), which then deliver their cargo into the lysosomal lumen for degradation. Given the interaction with NEDD4 and TSG101, and the localization of SIMPLE along the lysosomal degradation pathway, we hypothesize that SIMPLE plays a role in the lysosomal sorting of plasma membrane proteins. We examine three CMT1C-associated SIMPLE mutations and show that they do not affect the interaction with NEDD4 or TSG101, nor do they lead to altered subcellular localization.
    Journal of Neuroscience Research 11/2005; 82(1):43-50. · 2.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Rates of synonymous nucleotide substitutions are, in general, exceptionally low in plant mitochondrial genomes, several times lower than in chloroplast genomes, 10-20 times lower than in plant nuclear genomes, and 50-100 times lower than in many animal mitochondrial genomes. Several cases of moderate variation in mitochondrial substitution rates have been reported in plants, but these mostly involve correlated changes in chloroplast and/or nuclear substitution rates and are therefore thought to reflect whole-organism forces rather than ones impinging directly on the mitochondrial mutation rate. Only a single case of extensive, mitochondrial-specific rate changes has been described, in the angiosperm genus Plantago. We explored a second potential case of highly accelerated mitochondrial sequence evolution in plants. This case was first suggested by relatively poor hybridization of mitochondrial gene probes to DNA of Pelargonium hortorum (the common geranium). We found that all eight mitochondrial genes sequenced from P. hortorum are exceptionally divergent, whereas chloroplast and nuclear divergence is unexceptional in P. hortorum. Two mitochondrial genes were sequenced from a broad range of taxa of variable relatedness to P. hortorum, and absolute rates of mitochondrial synonymous substitutions were calculated on each branch of a phylogenetic tree of these taxa. We infer one major, approximately 10-fold increase in the mitochondrial synonymous substitution rate at the base of the Pelargonium family Geraniaceae, and a subsequent approximately 10-fold rate increase early in the evolution of Pelargonium. We also infer several moderate to major rate decreases following these initial rate increases, such that the mitochondrial substitution rate has returned to normally low levels in many members of the Geraniaceae. Finally, we find unusually little RNA editing of Geraniaceae mitochondrial genes, suggesting high levels of retroprocessing in their history. The existence of major, mitochondrial-specific changes in rates of synonymous substitutions in the Geraniaceae implies major and reversible underlying changes in the mitochondrial mutation rate in this family. Together with the recent report of a similar pattern of rate heterogeneity in Plantago, these findings indicate that the mitochondrial mutation rate is a more plastic character in plants than previously realized. Many molecular factors could be responsible for these dramatic changes in the mitochondrial mutation rate, including nuclear gene mutations affecting the fidelity and efficacy of mitochondrial DNA replication and/or repair and--consistent with the lack of RNA editing--exceptionally high levels of "mutagenic" retroprocessing. That the mitochondrial mutation rate has returned to normally low levels in many Geraniaceae raises the possibility that, akin to the ephemerality of mutator strains in bacteria, selection favors a low mutation rate in plant mitochondria.
    BMC Evolutionary Biology 02/2005; 5:73. · 3.29 Impact Factor
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    Andrew J Shirk, Rahul Kuver
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    ABSTRACT: Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is a highly invasive neoplasm. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) and its receptor are over expressed in pancreatic cancer, and expression correlates with invasion and metastasis. We hypothesized that EGF receptor and integrin signalling pathways interact in mediating cellular adhesion and invasion in pancreatic cancer, and that invasiveness correlates temporally with detachment from extracellular matrix. We tested this hypothesis by investigating the role of EGF in mediating adhesion to and invasion through collagen I and Matrigel in the metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma cell line Capan-1. Adhesion and invasion were measured using in vitro assays of fluorescently-labeled cells. Adhesion and invasion assays were also performed in the primary pancreatic adenocarcinoma cell line MIA PaCa-2. EGF inhibited adhesion to collagen I and Matrigel in Capan-1 cells. The loss of adhesion was reversed by AG825, an inhibitor of erbB2 receptor signalling and by wortmannin, a PI3K inhibitor, but not by the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide. EGF stimulated invasion through collagen I and Matrigel at concentrations and time courses similar to those mediating detachment from these extracellular matrix components. Adhesion to collagen I was different in MIA PaCa-2 cells, with no significant change elicited following EGF treatment, whereas treatment with the EGF family member heregulin-alpha elicited a marked increase in adhesion. Invasion through Matrigel in response to EGF, however, was similar to that observed in Capan-1 cells. An inverse relationship exists between adhesion and invasion capabilities in Capan-1 cells but not in MIA PaCa-2 cells. EGF receptor signalling involving the erbB2 and PI3K pathways plays a role in mediating these events in Capan-1 cells.
    BMC Gastroenterology 02/2005; 5:12. · 2.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Charcot-Marie-Tooth neuropathy type 1C (CMT1C) is an autosomal dominant demyelinating peripheral neuropathy caused by missense mutations in the small integral membrane protein of lysosome/late endosome (SIMPLE) gene. To investigate the prevalence of SIMPLE mutations, we screened a cohort of 152 probands with various types of demyelinating or axonal and pure motor or sensory inherited neuropathies. SIMPLE mutations were found only in CMT1 patients, including one G112S and one W116G missense mutations. A novel I74I polymorphism was identified, yet no splicing defect of SIMPLE is likely. Haplotype analysis of STR markers and intragenic SNPs linked to the gene demonstrated that families with the same mutation are unlikely to be related. The clustering of the G112S, T115N, and W116G mutations within five amino acids suggests this domain may be critical to peripheral nerve myelination. Electrophysiological studies showed that CMT1C patients from six pedigrees (n = 38) had reduced nerve conduction velocities ranging from 7.5 to 27.0m/sec (peroneal). Two patients had temporal dispersion of nerve conduction and irregularity of conduction slowing, which is unusual for CMT1 patients. We report the expression of SIMPLE in various cell types of the sciatic nerve, including Schwann cells, the affected cell type in CMT1C.
    Annals of Neurology 06/2004; 55(5):713-20. · 11.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) neuropathy is a heterogeneous group of inherited disorders of the peripheral nervous system. The authors recently mapped an autosomal dominant demyelinating form of CMT type 1 (CMT1C) to chromosome 16p13.1-p12.3. To find the gene mutations underlying CMT1C. The authors used a combination of standard positional cloning and candidate gene approaches to identify the causal gene for CMT1C. Western blot analysis was used to determine relative protein levels in patient and control lymphocyte extracts. Northern blotting was used to characterize gene expression in 1) multiple tissues; 2) developing sciatic nerve; and 3) nerve-crush and nerve-transection experiments. The authors identified missense mutations (G112S, T115N, W116G) in the LITAFgene (lipopolysaccharide-induced tumor necrosis factor-alpha factor) in three CMT1C pedigrees. LITAF, which is also referred to as SIMPLE, is a widely expressed gene encoding a 161-amino acid protein that may play a role in protein degradation pathways. The mutations associated with CMT1C were found to cluster, defining a domain of the LITAF protein having a critical role in peripheral nerve function. Western blot analysis suggested that the T115N and W116G mutations do not alter the level of LITAF protein in peripheral blood lymphocytes. The LITAF transcript is expressed in sciatic nerve, but its level of expression is not altered during development or in response to nerve injury. This finding is in stark contrast to that seen for other known genes that cause CMT1. Mutations in LITAF may account for a significant proportion of CMT1 patients with previously unknown molecular diagnosis and may define a new mechanism of peripheral nerve perturbation leading to demyelinating neuropathy.
    Neurology 02/2003; 60(1):22-6. · 8.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Gall-bladder epithelial cells (GBEC) are exposed to high concentrations of cholesterol in bile. Whereas cholesterol absorption by GBEC is established, the fate of this absorbed cholesterol is not known. The aim of this study was to determine whether ABCA1 (ATP-binding cassette transporter A1) mediates cholesterol efflux in GBEC. Polarized canine GBEC were cultured on porous membrane filters allowing separate access to apical (AP) and basolateral (BL) compartments. After AP loading of cells with model bile and [14C]cholesterol, cholesterol efflux was measured. Cholesterol loading together with 8-bromo-cAMP treatment, which increased ABCA1 expression, led to a significant increase in cholesterol efflux with apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I) as the acceptor. Cholesterol efflux was observed predominantly into the BL compartment. Similar results were found for phospholipid efflux. Confocal immunofluorescence microscopy showed a predominantly BL ABCA1 localization. Interestingly, apoA-I added to either the AP or the BL compartments elicited BL lipid efflux with cAMP treatment. No paracellular or transcellular passage of 125I-apoA-I occurred. Ligands for the nuclear hormone receptors liver X receptor alpha (LXRalpha) and retinoid X receptor (RXR) elicited AP and BL cholesterol efflux, suggesting the involvement of both ABCA1- and non-ABCA1-mediated pathways. In summary, BL cholesterol/phospholipid efflux consistent with an ABCA1-mediated mechanism occurs in GBEC. This efflux pathway is stimulated by cAMP and by LXRalpha/RXR ligands, and in the case of the cAMP pathway appears to involve a role for biliary apoA-I.
    Biochemical Journal 07/2002; 364(Pt 2):475-84. · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • Rahul P. Kuver, Andrew Shirk
    Gastroenterology 01/2001; 120(5). · 12.82 Impact Factor
  • J LEE, A SHIRK, J ORAM, S LEE, R KUVER
    Gastroenterology 01/2001; 120(5). · 12.82 Impact Factor
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    Andrew J. Shirk
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    ABSTRACT: Population connectivity is mediated by the movement of organisms or propagules through landscapes. However, little is known about how variation in the pattern of landscape mosaics affects the detectability of landscape genetic relationships. The goal of this paper is to explore the impacts of limiting factors on landscape genetic processes using simulation modeling. We used spatially explicit, individual-based simulation modeling to quantify the effects of habitat area, fragmentation and the contrast in resistance between habitat and non-habitat on the apparent strength and statistical detectability of landscape genetic relationships. We found that landscape genetic effects are often not detectable when habitat is highly connected. In such situations landscape structure does not limit gene flow. We also found that contrast in resistance values between habitat and non-habitat interacts with habitat extensiveness and fragmentation to affect detectability of landscape genetic relationships. Thus, the influence of landscape features critical to providing connectivity may not be detectable if gene flow is not limited by spatial patterns or resistance contrast of these features. We developed regression equations that reliably predict whether or not isolation by resistance will be detected independently of isolation by distance as a function of habitat fragmentation and contrast in resistance between habitat and non-habitat.
    Conservation Genetics 14(2). · 2.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Climate change is likely to alter population connectivity, particularly for species associated with higher elevation environments. The goal of this study is to predict the potential effects of future climate change on population connectivity and genetic diversity of American marten populations across a 30.2 million hectare region of the in the US northern Rocky Mountains. We use a landscape resistance model validated from empirical landscape genetics modeling to predict the current and expected future extent and fragmentation of American marten dispersal habitat under five climate change scenarios, corresponding to climatic warming of between 0.7 and 3.3 °C, consistent with expected climate change by year 2080. We predict the regions of the current and future landscapes where gene flow is expected to be governed by isolation by distance and the regions where population fragmentation is expected to limit gene flow. Finally, we predict changes in the strength and location of predicted movement corridors, fracture zones and the location of dispersal barriers across the study area in each scenario. We found that under the current climate, gene flow is predicted to be limited primarily by distance (isolation), and landscape structure does not significantly limit gene flow, resulting in very high genetic diversity over most of the study area. Projected climatic warming substantially reduces the extent and increases the fragmentation of marten populations in the western and northwestern parts of the study area. In contrast, climate change is not predicted to fragment the extensive higher elevation mountain massifs in central Idaho, the northern U.S. continental divide, and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In addition, we show locations in the study area that are important corridors in the current landscape that remain intact across the climate change scenarios.
    Conservation Genetics 14(2). · 2.18 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

306 Citations
81.73 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2005–2014
    • University of Washington Seattle
      • • Climate Impacts Group (CIG)
      • • Department of Pediatrics
      Seattle, Washington, United States
  • 2010
    • Western Washington University
      Bellingham, Washington, United States