Leslee Parr

Leslee Parr

Duncan Hall, Room 555
Telephone: (408) 924-4897
FAX: (408) 924-4840
E-mail: lparr@email.sjsu.edu



University of Washington, Seattle, WA, B.A., Zoology with Honors, Minor, Earth Science, 1979.

Southern Oregon University, Ashland, OR, M.S., Secondary Education: Science, 1986.
University of Guanajuato Outstanding Graduate Student Award.

Portland State University, Portland, OR, Ph.D., Environmental Sciences and Resources, 2000.


Courses Taught

  • Biology 104A, The Natural History of California Animals
  • Biol 118, Evolutionary Genetics
  • Biol 218, Evolution
  • Biol 255E, Conservation Genetics
  • MUSE 11E, The Nature of Human Life (MUSE)


Research Interests


    My past research examined the DNA sequences of four mitochondrial genes (cytochrome b, the tRNAs threonine and proline, and the control region or D-loop) of the subungulates (aardvarks, hyraxes, elephants, manatees and dugongs). I have used my analyses of these sequences in three ways:
  1. to elucidate the phylogenetic (evolutionary) relationships of the subungulates,
  2. to test the morphologically based taxonomy of the three extant species of manatees,
  3. to provide a database of genetic variation within and between manatee populations of all three species of manatees, this data is currently being used to,

    1. monitor and implement manatee recovery plans for both the West Indian and West African manatee species (no recovery plan has yet been devised for the Amazonian manatee),
    2. identify locations of origin of stranded West Indian manatees, so that these individuals can be rehabilitated and returned to their native habitat,
    3. identify, to species and regions of origin, suspected manatee products confiscated by customs and wildlife forensic agents, enabling enforcement of wildlife protection regulations.

    This research was completed at the U. S. Fish and Wildlife National Forensic Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, as my doctoral dissertation work. I continued on at the National Laboratory for four years (until accepting my position at SJSU), serving as a resident scientist and as the proficiency examiner for the serology section of the laboratory.

Conservation Genetics:

      My current area of research is conservation genetics. Conservation genetics focuses on the problem of preserving genetic diversity in threatened or endangered species through population and habitat management. Informed management decisions require both estimates of genetic variation within the populations of concern and ongoing, qualitative assessment of changes in population size, connectedness, and genetic variability. My research is based on DNA sequencing, sequence analysis, and most recently, microsatellite analysis.


West African manatees.

I am actively involved in the acquisition, sequencing and analysis of West African manatee samples. I serve on the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) Sirenian (manatees and dugongs) Specialist Group and am one of the authors of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) West African Manatee Recovery Plan. I sequence and analyze West African manatee tissues acquired by IUCN field researchers in order to monitor implementation of the Recovery Plan.


Dungeness crabs.

Over the last five years I have also taken part in a second area of research which involves measuring the biogeography and larval dispersal of Dungeness crabs using mitochondrial DNA sequencing (my graduate students and I are now attempting to use microsatellite analysis in this research). I am collaborating on this work with Curtis Roegner, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and Alan Shanks, University of Oregon's Oregon Institute of Marine Biology. We propose to use analyses of genetic variability to investigate dispersal of the Dungeness crab, throughout its geographic range. Our investigations of crab dispersal have revealed that larvae are aggregated into patches at sea and recruit into estuarine systems in discreet pulses. We have developed a simple procedure for acquiring time series of larvae, and have archived five years of returning final stage larvae (megalopae). We have also successfully extracted, amplified, and sequenced the COI gene of the crab mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). We now propose to develop and use microsatellite markers for nuclear genome characterization. We will use microsatellite analysis in combination with mtDNA sequence analysis as a of measure genetic variability within and among populations of both adult and returning megalopae of C. magister. With these data, we will determine the biogeography of adult crab populations and elucidate the nature of larval dispersal of Dungeness crab throughout its range.

      The results of this study compiled with the available information on the dispersal distance of the propagules of other Pacific coast benthic marine organisms will be used for the development of criteria for the design, size, and spacing of proposed Pacific coast marine reserves.

      Two of my graduate students are working on this project for their M.S. thesis research.


Thailand Dugongs:

Recently I was invited to participate in a dugong conservation management program along the Andaman coast of Thailand in cooperation with Ellen Hines, Department of Environmental Geography, San Francisco State University and Kanjana Adulyanukosol, Marine Endangered Species Unit (MESU), Phuket Marine Biological Center, Phuket, Thailand.

      The dugong is a marine mammal found in coastal waters from east Africa to Australia. Once commonly seen, dugongs are now considered endangered. In 2001, Hines completed aerial surveys along the Andaman Sea of Thailand; her results indicate that only about 100 dugongs remain. Since 1996, Kanjana Adulyanukosol has performed necropsies on fatally stranded dugongs along the Andaman coast. In March 2002, Adulyanukosol visited SJSU and delivered these tissues to my lab for analysis.

My graduate student, Danielle Palmer, is performing microsatellite and DNA sequencing analysis on these tissues for her M.S. thesis.


Selected Publications

Parr, L.A. and D.A. Duffield. 2002. Interspecific comparison of mitochondrial DNA variation between extant species of manatee. In: Molecular and Cell Biology of Marine       Mammals. Krieger Pulishing Co., Ed. Carl J. Pfeiffer.


Silva, M.A., A. Araujo, F. Djedjo, L. Gomes, H. Monteiro, L. Parr. 1999. Plano nacional       de conservacao do manatim Africo (Trichechus senegalensis) na Guine-Bissau. ICUN       (Instituto da Conservacao da Natureza).