Dr. Matthew Morris wins best thesis award in Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary

Dr. Matthew Morris, Dr. Sean Rogers’ recent PhD graduate, has won an award for best thesis in Biological Sciences at the University of  Calgary, “Contemporary ancestor? Variation in marine threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and its implications for adaptive divergence”.
Matthew conducted stickleback sampling in Bamfield Inlet in 2013/2014 as part of an extensive coastal sampling design that stretched from Alaska to California. 
Matthew is currently an Assistant Professor at Ambrose University in Calgary. He now brings out his students to BMSC as part of the Ambrose Field Trip.
Thesis summary: Contemporary populations of marine threespine stickleback are often used as proxies for the ancestors of freshwater threespine stickleback – that is, what marine stickleback are like now is what freshwater stickleback evolved from. My thesis explored the appropriateness of this, by testing several assumptions about marine threespine stickleback – that they constitute a single large population along the coast of western North America, exhibit little morphological and genetic diversity across locations, and evolve relatively slowly. My research found substantial genetic and phenotypic differentiation among marine stickleback – that is, there was more than one population, and these populations differed from one another in important ways. Vertebral number, body armour, body shape, and DNA differed among populations. Furthermore, there was evidence that these populations are evolving in different directions. Therefore, what they look like today may not be what they looked like 10 000 years ago, when marine stickleback first invaded freshwater lakes in the north.
By: Morris, M. R. J.; Petrovitch, E.; Bowles, E.; et al.
JOURNAL OF FISH BIOLOGY   Volume: 91   Issue: 2   Pages: 645-663   Published: AUG 2017