The overall research goal of the Group is to determine the interaction between the environment, species biology and genetic population structure. Species traits, such as dispersal ability and environmental tolerances, determine population size and diversity as well as connectivity among populations. On the other hand, past and present microevolutionary processes affect aspects of species biology, such as productivity, physiology and reproductive success, and thus species distribution and adaptability. In pursuing this overarching goal, the research program of the Group has developed along three principal themes:
- The investigation of drivers of genetic population structure in marine species, not only for the identification of self-recruiting populations as units for management and conservation, but also to pinpoint mechanisms of dispersal demographic variability. We mainly work on Pacific herring, Pacific cod, rockfish and Pacific halibut.
- The quantification of reproductive success, dispersal and gene flow, primarily in anadromous salmonids, with the aim to identify primary causal mechanisms leading to phenotypic diversity and divergence. This research concentrates on steelhead and sockeye salmon, but we have also worked on brown rockfish in Puget Sound.
- The examination of mutation mechanisms, patterns of variability and statistical analyses of molecular data, in order to improve their interpretation in a biological context.
In pursuing these research goals, we are always very keen on the practical application of the research. We therefore collaborate extensively with federal and state management agencies, thus ensuring the rapid application of results and providing students with context and contacts in management.
The lab is part of a larger group, the Molecular Ecology Research Laboratory (MERLab), headed by Kerry Naish and Lorenz Hauser, and partnered with the Seeb Lab. We are all part of the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington.