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3 Yr Postdoctoral Position - NHM, London - please post

Tim Littlewood T.Littlewood at nhm.ac.uk
Tue May 16 10:48:43 EST 2000

The enigma of the marine biodiversity focus in the Indo-West Pacific Ocean:
competing models assessed by the molecular phylogeny of a species-rich
molluscan clade

Applicants are sought for the position of Postdoctoral Research Assistant on
the above project, to be carried out in the new Molecular Biology Unit at
the Natural History Museum, London. The project will start some time this
year, to run for 3 years. Starting salary up to 25000 pounds. Please respond
before 31 May 2000 with CV (including statement of research interests and
starting availability) and e-mail addresses of two potential referees.

This project aims to throw new light on two of the most longstanding and
significant questions of evolutionary biology in the marine environment:
- How does speciation occur in widely dispersed organisms?
- How is the process related to the origin of the biodiversity focus of the
Indo-West Pacific (IWP)?

The study group, the littorinid genus Nodilittorina, is an eminently
suitable model for the majority of marine animals contributing to the IWP
diversity gradient; its 30 IWP species have a 4-week planktonic larval life
and exhibit a range of both widespread and narrowly endemic geographical
distributions. Samples of every known species of this genus are available,
and distributions are accurately known.  The application of molecular
phylogenetics to IWP biogeography is only just beginning, and previous
studies have been limited by restricted taxon sampling and poorly known
distributions. It is therefore proposed:
- For the first time, to generate a molecular phylogeny of a species-rich,
monophyletic clade in the IWP.
- To seek concordant patterns (e.g. sister-relations between Indian and
Pacific Ocean sub-clades, and central or peripheral location of derived
species) for comparison with the predictions of the four competing models of
IWP biogeography (centre of origin, of accumulation, of survival, or of
- Estimates of age from molecular divergence will distinguish between
relatively recent (Pleistocene) and more ancient (Miocene or earlier)
species radiations.
- Further, the phylogeography of mitochondrial haplotypes will be examined
from throughout the range of two widely distributed species in order to
search for parallels between genetic and species diversity gradients, and
between geographical occurrence of derived alleles and species. Such
parallels will indicate how present-day determinants of gene flow (e.g.
ocean currents and island isolation) contributed to speciation in the past.

The ideal candidate will have skills in:
a. standard molecular biology techniques +/- gene sequencing skills
b. use of phylogenetic and population genetic software

Facilities at the NHM are excellent for molecular systematic/phylogenetic work.

For further details, contact:

Dr David Reid or Dr Tim Littlewood
Department of Zoology
The Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 5BD
United Kingdom


Tel:  +44 (0) 20 7942 5051 or 5742
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7942 5054

E-mail: dgr at nhm.ac.uk  or: t.littlewood at nhm.ac.uk

D.T.J. Littlewood
Department of Zoology
The Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD

tel: +44 (0)207 942 5742 (office)  5008 (lab - you'll be lucky)
fax: +44 (0)207 942 5151


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