Evolution and Conservation in the Deep Sea


Thursday, December 2, 2021, 6:00pm to 7:15pm



A ship cutting through the water.

Free Virtual Public Lecture

Rus Hoelzel, Professor of Molecular Ecology, Department of Biosciences, Durham University, U.K.; 2020­–2021 Sarah and Daniel Hrdy Visiting Fellow in Conservation Biology, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

Advance Registration Required.

The deep sea is a dark, cold habitat, once thought to be inhospitable to life and uniform across its vast expanses. Technologies such as remotely operated vehicles have shown scientists that it is, in fact, home to highly diverse organisms uniquely adapted to its harsh conditions. We still have much to learn, however, about how species and populations evolved in the deep sea. This has important conservation implications because the depletion of nearshore and shallow water species has moved fisheries increasingly into deeper waters. Rus Hoelzel will discuss some of the key environmental drivers and adaptations promoting the evolution of diversity in the deep sea, with a focus on those associated with depth itself.

Presented in collaboration with the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology

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About the Speaker

Rus Hoelzel studied biology as an undergraduate at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, evolutionary biology for a MA at the University of Sussex, Brighton, U.K., and earned his PhD in genetics at the University of Cambridge, U.K. He has held postdoctoral positions at Silwood Park, Imperial College, U.K., and the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Maryland, U.S. He is currently professor of molecular ecology at the University of Durham, U.K. He has published extensively on evolutionary process and conservation genetics, and has been editor in chief of the Springer-Nature journal Conservation Genetics since 2000. He and his group currently focus their work on understanding the relative roles of genetic drift and natural selection on the evolution of biodiversity in natural systems, both aquatic and terrestrial.