Emily Fountain


Postdoctoral Research Associate
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology
1630 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1598


Evolution is amazing! I love to study how species evolved and the factors that influence their current evolutionary path. To do this I use genetics combined with information such as geography, geology, ecology, and behavior.

For my PhD, I explored the use of museum specimens to analyse population changes and declines in the endangered, endemic weevil genus Hadramphus over the past 150 years. Using next generation sequencing and other novel molecular techniques, I was able to determine that one species, H. tuberculatus, has experienced severe loss of genetic diversity and, based on ecological studies of the only remaining population, could decline into extinction. The methods I devised will be used in future studies to obtain DNA from valuable historical specimens. During my PhD I was a visiting researcher at Seoul National University where I studied the immunogenetics of non-model amphibian species. In addition, I was a member of a collaborative project team at Lincoln University, NZ, which focused on the evolution of feather lice. This sparked a fascination with the lousy world of parasites.

For my postdoc, I am working on the population genomics of  Hoffmann’s two-toed (Choloepus hoffmanni) and the brown-throated three-toed (Bradypus variegatus) sloths. I will use double digest RADseq for de novo SNP discovery to answer questions on population connectivity and migration, and the effects of agroecology on sloth evolution.


  • Ph.D. Evolutionary Biology, Lincoln University, New Zealand, 2013.
  • Post Graduate Certificate with distinction, Applied Science, Lincoln University, New Zealand, July 2008.
  • B.S. Biology, University of Missouri-Columbia, 2007.


  • 2013 – Lincoln University, Bio-Protection CORE, New Zealand – Research fellow in Agroecology.
  • 2011-2013 – Seoul National University, School of Biological Sciences, South Korea – Visiting Researcher.
  • 2008-2013 – Lincoln University, Ecology Department, New Zealand – Molecular Research Assistant.
  • 2005-2007 – University of Missouri-Columbia, Department of Biomedical Sciences – Research Assistant.


Fountain, E. D., J. N. Pauli, J. E. Mendoza, J. Carlson, M. Z. Peery. In Review. Cophylogenetics and biogeography reveal a coevolved relationship between sloths and their symbiont algae.

Pauli, J. N., M. Z. Peery, E. D. Fountain, W. H. Karasov. 2016. Arboreal folivores limit their energetic output, all the way to slothfulnessThe American Naturalist 188(2): 196–204.

Fountain, E. D., J. N. Pauli, P. J. Palsbøll, M. Z. Peery. 2016Finding the right coverage: The impact of read depth and sequence quality on SNP genotyping error rates. Molecular Ecology Resources 16(4): 966–978.

Fountain, E. D. and Wratten, S. D. 2013. A narrative of agriculture and biodiversity loss. In: Ecosystem services in New Zealand – Conditions and trends. J. R. Dymond (Editor). Manaaki Whenua Press, New Zealand.

Fountain, E. D., Wiseman, B. H., Cruickshank, R. H., and Paterson, A. M. 2013. The ecology and conservation of Hadramphus tuberculatus (Pascoe 1877) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Molytinae). Journal of Insect Conservation 17(4): 737-745.

Fountain, E. D., Mao, J., Whyte, J. J, Mueller, K. E., Ellersieck, M. R., Will, M. J., MacDonald, R. Roberts, R.M., Rosenfeld, C. S. 2008. Effects of diets enriched in Omega-3 and Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids on offspring sex-ratio and maternal behavior in mice. Biology of Reproduction 78(2): 211-217.

Whyte, J. J., Alexenko, A. P., Davis, A. M., Grimm, K. M., Fountain, E. D., Rosenfeld, C. S. 2007. Maternal diet composition alters serum steroid and free fatty acid concentrations and vaginal pH in mice. Journal of Endocrinology 192: 75-81.