Horizontal and Vertical Transmission in Host-Associated Microbiomes
Microbiomes are ecological communities that thrive in a wide variety of habitats, including on or in animal hosts. This thesis presents analyses of two microbiome data sets associated with long-term ecological research projects: the Kluane Red Squirrel Project (Yukon, Canada) and the Algonquin Provincial Park Canada Jay Project (Ontario, Canada). Hypotheses related to horizontal and vertical transmission were tested to explain the drivers of microbial community composition in both host species. In the North American Red Squirrel fecal microbiome, spatial location (related to horizontal transmission) was the strongest predictor of microbial community composition. In the Canada jay, seasonality (i.e., sample collection season) and parental identity (vertical transmission) were strong predictors of oral microbial community composition, while spatial location was not.