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Postdoctoral Fellows

Postdoctoral Fellows

Melissa Evans (

I am fascinated by adaptive evolutionary processes (natural and sexual selection) and their roles as drivers of biological differentiation. I use an integrative approach, ranging from molecular evolution to field ecology, to examine eco-evolutionary interactions at different levels of biological organization. A large component of my research examines patterns of variation at candidate genes (genes of known function) and phenotypes as a proxy for estimating patterns of adaptive evolution. From these patterns, and their environmental correlates, we can make and test predictions about potential sources of ecologically-driven evolution. Ultimately, my aim is to identify and experimentally examine trait-fitness-environment associations and to apply this knowledge to species conservation and management.

My current research is primarily focused on salmonid fish species, including Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), and whitefish (Coregonus spp.). Salmonids have become important systems for understanding adaptive evolution because they have evolved incredible biological diversity in a relatively short time frame (i.e. since the recession of the last glaciation event) and occur across a broad geographic range. Many species are also of significant conservation concern due to historical overfishing, habitat degradation, and more recently, environmental change associated with climatic fluctuations.

I completed my PhD degree in 2010 under the supervision of Dr. Bryan Neff (Univ. Western Ontario) and Dr. Daniel Heath (Univ. Windsor). My PhD research focused on examining parasite-driven natural selection, sexual selection, and local adaptation across populations of Chinook salmon in British Columbia. Prior to joining Dr. Fleming's lab, I held an NSERC PDF under the supervision of Dr. Louis Bernatchez (Univ. Laval), where I investigated the role of physiological trait divergence in the ongoing speciation of European and lake whitefish. At Memorial, I will be investigating the behavioural and evolutionary ecology of Atlantic salmon at sea, both at juvenile and adult life history stages.

My publications can be viewed here:


José Beirão Santos B.Sc.(Hons) Algarve; Ph.D. León