Jonathan WatersProf. Jon Waters

University of Otago

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Jon is a leading biogeographer and evolutionary biologist who studies southern hemisphere marine and freshwater ecosystems. His group is currently using ancient-DNA techniques to understand human impacts on iconic marine vertebrate species such as penguins and pinnipeds. This work has revealed a dynamic history of population extinction and recolonisation in coastal New Zealand in recent centuries. His recent research has used genetic techniques to understand the role of passive rafting dispersal in facilitating connectivity between isolated coastal communities across a wide range of spatial scales. The research suggests that long-distance kelp-rafting plays a key role in shaping subantarctic biogeography. He has also explored the impacts of glacial-interglacial transitions on southern hemisphere marine biodiversity. Prof. Waters also has a productive research program on geological and ecological drivers of freshwater biodiversity, and is using multidisciplinary approaches to assess the pace of DNA evolution – knowledge that is crucial for understanding biological change.


Key publications


Craw D, Upton P, Burridge CP, Wallis GP, and Waters JM (in press) Rapid biological speciation driven by tectonic evolution in New Zealand. Nature Geoscience. DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2618

Nikula R, Spencer HG, and Waters JM (2013) Passive rafting is a powerful driver of transoceanic gene flow. Biology Letters, 9: 20120821. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.0821

Waters JM, Fraser CI, and Hewitt GM (2013) Founder takes all: density-dependent processes structure biodiversity. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 28: 78-85. DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2012.08.024

Fraser CI, Nikula R, Ruzzante DE, and Waters JM (2012) Poleward bound: biological impacts of Southern Hemisphere glaciation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 27: 462-471. DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2012.04.011

Fraser CI, Nikula R, Spencer HG, and Waters JM (2009) Kelp genes reveal effects of subantarctic sea ice during the Last Glacial Maximum. PNAS, 106: 3249-3253. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0810635106