Dr Paul Shaw

Research interests

Overview of current research

My research is in the field of molecular ecology, which can be loosely defined as the application of molecular genetic markers to questions in ecology and evolution. My main interests are currently:
Genetic pattern and change in populations - understanding evolution at the population level.
A cornerstone of such work is the ability to measure and understand the distribution and maintenance of genetic variation within species, and how this may (or may not) be affected by life-history parameters, stochastic natural forces, natural selection and exploitation pressure. The aim is the definition of mechanisms underlying population genetic change, evolution and speciation. My particular interests are in developing the application of molecular tools to the genetic assessment and management of populations: current work is on species with large census population sizes (shellfish - cockles and crabs) and which are highly mobile or pelagic (fish - East African cichlids, guppies, toothfish, roach; and cephalopods - SW Atlantic squid, cuttlefish, S African squid).
A pelagic predatory cichlid of Lake Malawi, Rhamphochromis brevis
The common cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis (photo: Jose Luis Gonzalez, Marevision)

Population genetic sub-structuring of UK roach (Rutilus rutilus): implications for migration rates and re-stocking practices. This project is assessing phylogeographic influences on current population genetic diversity of roach, and the effects of environmental factors (river topography, flow rates, etc) and anthropogenic impacts (e.g. re-stocking practices) on roach population structuring. The project is also using captive breeding experiments to assess biased reproductive success amongst males, particularly in relation to the effects of endocrine disruption of reproductive functions. (Steve Crookes, PhD student - in collaboration with the Environment Agency)

Estimating genetic variability and gene flow within and between populations of Long Snouted seahorse (Hippocampus guttulatus, Linnaeus 1758) and Short Snouted seahorse (Hippocampus hippocampus, Cuvier 1829), the two native European seahorse species, across their geographical range. This project will also genetically determine mating patterns in these species, to clarify whether they possess truly long term pair bonding and monogamous mating. Both aspects of the project aim to feed information in to local and Europe-wide marine conservation policy and practice. (Lucy Woodall, NERC Industrial CASE PhD student)
Patella candei - photo F.Tempera (ImagDOP)
Phylogeography, dispersal and gene flow of Macaronesian limpets. The aim is to establish genetic relationships among the limpet species of Macaronesia (Azores, Cape Verde and Canaries archipelagos, Madeira and Selvagens islands) and continental Europe, to investigate colonisation routes and mechanisms, speciation events, and present day gene flow. (Gilberto Pinto Carreira, visiting FCT PhD student from University of Azores)
Mating strategies in aquatic animals - how to test reproductive success of competing strategies
The recent development of highly variable DNA markers has opened up possibilities for accurate testing of hypotheses of reproductive strategies in many species, particularly where reliable observations or monitoring of offspring were previously impossible, as in many aquatic species. Current research at RHUL involves development and application of microsatellite DNA markers to questions of mating strategies in several cephalopods:
The incidence of multiple paternity, and fertilisation success of "dominant" and "sneaker" males, in the wild in the Chokka squid Loligo vulgaris reynaudii (Dr Marie-Jose Naud, in collaboration with Dr Warwick Sauer, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa)

Incidence of multiple paternity in marine turtles (green turtle and hawksbill turtle), and variation across regional populations of SE Asia (Juanita Joseph, PhD student).

Aquarium-based experimental manipulations of promiscuous mating in the common cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis (with Dr Angel Guerra and Dr Vera Bettencourt, University of Vigo, Spain) (photo: Jose Luis Gonzalez, Marevision)

Testing success rates of the "female impersonation" strategy used by non-dominant males in the giant cuttlefish, Sepia apama, in southern Australia (with Dr Roger Hanlon of the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, USA; Karina Hall, Marie-Jose Naud and Dr Jon Havenhand of Flinders University, Australia).

  • Research Group

Paul Shaw
Amy Taylor (NERC CASE PhD student, CASE partner Natural History Museum, London)
Olgac Guven (visiting PhD student, Antalya University, Turkey)
Romina Novo Henriques (PhD student, FCT Portuguese Government funding)
Nial McKeown (DEFRA PDRA)
Lucy Woodall (NERC Industrial CASE PhD student, CASE partner London Zoo)
Steve Crookes (NERC CASE PhD student, CASE partner Environment Agency)
Gilberto Pinto Carreira (visiting FCT PhD student, University of Azores)

  • Former group members

Yoko Iwata
Kristina Hamilton
Marie-Jose Naud
Piero Calosi
Juanita Joseph

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