The Breden lab studies many questions, including sexual selection and opsin evolution in live-bearing fishes, finding the causes of spinal curvature using model teleosts, human immunoglobulin genetic variation and connections with diseases, MHC variation in wild salmon populations, and colonization and dispersal in sockey salmon in Aniakchak National Park, Alaska. The unifying theme is evolutionary genetics.
We work at the intersection of phylogenetics, diversification, and conservation. My training is in using phylogenies to probe speciation and extinction dynamics. Since coming to SFU, I have become interested in what phylogenies predict about other attributes of species, and whether there is a strong argument for attending to phylogenetic diversity in conservation planning. Most recently, I have become superficially interested in networks as representations of conservation-relevant diversity.
Arne Ø. Mooers
“The purpose of my research program is to use an integrated ecological and phylogenetic approach to study the evolution of reproductive behaviour. We are currently being focussed on several of the outstanding questions in evolutionary ecology: the evolution of social behaviour, the evolution of trophic interactions, the role of ecology in speciation, and the evolution of sex.”
We study the evolution of sex in the ocean. We use sea stars as study organisms, high-throughput sequencing methods to discover new genes expressed in sperm and eggs, and population genetic methods to analyze their molecular evolution compared to other parts of the genome. One ongoing project focuses on the diverse British Columbia sea star community. A new project focuses on gamete recognition genes and speciation in the crown-of-thorns sea star from the Indo-Pacific. The overall goal is to understand the molecular genetic basis for the evolution of reproductive isolation and the formation of new species in nature.
My students, postdocs, and I are interested in human biological and cultural evolution. Projects we are working on at the moment include improving methods of reconstructing the phylogenetic relationships of the fossil hominins, developing new ways of estimating thermoregulation in extinct hominins, and the factors that drive variation in human weaning behaviour. We are also working on the causes of toolkit diversity in small-scale societies, the colonization of the New World, and testing methods of estimating body mass in fossil hominins. In addition, we are looking at the role played by clothing in the replacement of the Neanderthals by modern humans, and attempting to develop a method for evaluating the level of expertise involved in the production of Upper Palaeolithic cave art.