People

Dr. Joseph DiBattista

Postdoctoral Fellows

Research Interests

Joseph was born in Montreal, Canada, where he completed his undergraduate studies in biology at McGill University, majoring in microbiology and immunology. After doing his Master’s degree in a fish physiology and biochemistry lab at the University of Ottawa (completed in 2005), he returned to McGill University to complete a Ph.D. in Biology in 2009 under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Hendry. For his Ph.D. project, Joseph studied the evolutionary potential of a large marine vertebrate by careful selection of model organism (Negaprion brevirostris, lemon shark), study sites (Bimini, Bahamas and Marquesas Key, Florida), and a combination of long-term field sampling (1995 to 2007) and novel genetic analyses (genetic fingerprinting and pedigree reconstruction). His current research is focused on understanding the origins of species-level biodiversity and how it is maintained, which was largely influenced by his recent postdoctoral position as an NSERC fellow at the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB; 2009-2011). Indeed, Joseph is interested in the integration of classical and molecular approaches to resolve patterns of genetic variation within and between marine populations (or species), identify historical and contemporary factors that influence separation of such populations (or species), incorporate phylogeographic findings into the design of marine protected areas, and track evolutionary responses in natural (or experimental) populations.
 
Joseph is now working with Dr. Michael Berumen’s at KAUST to build on a phylogeographic study of Indo-Pacific reef fish completed with Dr. Brian Bowen at HIMB to investigate the process of speciation in the Red Sea and Arabian Sea. This study addresses several biodiversity issues of evolutionary and conservation importance, including: How old are the endemic Red Sea reef fishes? Are endemic species in the Red Sea the product of single or multiple periods of invasion? Is there a refugium in the northern Red Sea that allows species to persist during glacial, low sea level stands? Is the Red Sea a source of marine biodiversity to the broader Indo-Pacific? This research is funded by a KAUST Competitive Research Grant and the National Geographic Society, and includes collaborators from the California Academy of Sciences, James Cook University, and HIMB. Joseph’s other collaborative projects include an investigation of the quantitative genetics of adaptation in marine organisms facing climate change (with researchers at Stony Brook University), using meta-analytic approaches to understand temporal and spatial variation in selection in the wild (with Drs. Adam Siepielski and Stephanie Carlson), a taxonomic revision of a globally distributed herring complex (with Dr. John Randall), and how diet/behavior and genetics influence natural and sexual selection in wild lemon shark populations (with Drs. Kevin Feldheim and Demian Chapman).