Michelle R. Gaither

  • Research Associate
  • Ichthyology
  • PhD

My research interests and experience are centered on the ecology, evolution, and the origin of biodiversity in marine systems. Explaining the high species richness in the sea has been problematic for two reasons: first, there are few obvious barriers to dispersal, and second, most marine organisms have a pelagic larval stage that has tremendous potential for dispersal.  Despite conditions that are believed to present few opportunities for speciation, the marine realm hosts incredibility diverse species assemblages, particularly in tropical waters. For my work I am combining ecological field observations and population genomics to address one of the oldest yet still hotly debated questions in biology: How do species form and specifically what are the roles of geographic isolation, ecological differentiation, sexual selection, and hybridization in the diversification of lineages?

EDUCATION

Ph.D., Zoology, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, 2005-2011
M.S., Biology, University of Guam, 1995-1999
B.A., Integrated Biology, University of California, Berkeley, 1991-1993
B.A., Environmental Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, 1991-1993

 

CURRENT POSITION

2013-present Postdoctoral Fellow, Durham University
2013-present Research Associate, California Academy of Sciences

 

HONORS/AWARDS

2012 Post-Doctoral Fellowship, California Academy of Sciences
2011 University of Hawai‘i at Manoa Research Council Award for Excellence in Dissertation Research
2009 Best Poster, Tester Memorial Symposium, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa

 

PROFESSIONAL SERVICE

Organization of symposia and workshops
2013 Convener, “Phylogeography: from genes to genomes,” 9th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference in Okinawa, Japan
2007 Assistant organizer, American Genetic Association’s Course on: “Recent advances in conservation genetics,” Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology
Journal and Proposal Reviewing
2006-present Reviewer for: Biochemical Systematics and Ecology, Biological Invasions, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Conservation Genetics, Environmental Biology of Fishes, Evolution, Genetica, Integrative and Comparative Biology, Journal of Biogeography, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, Journal of Fish Biology, Journal of Heredity, Journal of Marine Biology, Marine Biology, Marine and Freshwater Research, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Molecular Ecology, PLoS ONE
2012 Proposal Review for the National Research Foundation, South Africa- African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme (ACEP) 2012

 

GRANTS AND FELLOWSHIPS

California Academy of Sciences, Research in Excellent Awards. Genomics of coral reef fish speciation. $7341.27, Co-Investigator (P.I. Luiz Rocha).

California Academy of Sciences, Research in Excellent Awards. Exploring the origins of biodiversity in the remote central Indian Ocean. $5961.21, Sole P.I.

California Academy of Sciences, Research in Excellent Awards. Phylogeography: From genes to genomes. $8533.00, Co-Investigator (P.I. Luiz Rocha).

Postdoctoral Fellowship California Academy of Sciences, $100,000 (February 2012-2014).

John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, $52,500 (awarded but declined) (January 2012-13).

Soroptimist International Founder Region Fellowship, $7,500 (2010).

University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant. Introduced fish as a vector for invasive parasites. $120,000 (January 2009-2012), Co-Investigator (P.I. Bowen).

University of Hawai‘i Arts and Science Advisory Council, $3000 (2007).

Hawai‘i Department of Aquatic Resources. Stock structure in Opakapaka (Pristipomoides filamentosus) in Hawaii. $26,000 (2006), Co-Investigator (P.I. Brian Bowen).

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. Stock structure in Opakapaka (Pristipomoides filamentosus) in Hawaii. $40,890 (January 2006-2008), Co-Investigator (P.I. Brian Bowen).

 

CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS (*Invited)

2013 *Gaither MR, Colman R, Bernal MA, Bowen BW, Jones SA, Rocha LA. The convoluted evolutionary relationships among species of the Orangeband Surgeonfish complex: Using next-generation sequencing to resolve species’ histories. (9th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference, Okinawa, Japan
2012 Gaither MR, Pyle R, Schultz J, Bellwood D, Rocha L, DiBattista J, Bowen B. Evolution of the pygmy angelfishes: recent divergences, introgression, and the usefulness of color in fish taxonomy. 1st Joint Conference on Evolutionary Biology, Ottawa, Canada
2012 DiBattista JD, Berumen M, Gaither MR, Rocha L, Skillings D, Bowen BW. When continents divide: Comparative phylogeography of reef fishes from the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. 1st Joint Conference on Evolutionary Biology, Ottawa, Canada
2012 Colman R, Gaither MR, Kimokeo B, Bowen BW, Toonen RJ. Hybridization between the Hawaiian endemic sergeant, Abudefduf abdominalis, and the introduced Indo-Pacific sergean, Abudefduf vaigiensis. 1st Joint Conference on Evolutionary Biology, Ottawa, Canada (poster)
2011 Gaither MR, Jones SA, Kelley C, Newman SJ, Sorenson L, Bowen BW. Connectivity Among the Deep Water Fishes of the Hawaiian Archipelago. America Fisheries Society 141 st Annual Meeting, Seattle
2011 *Gaither MR. The utility of nuclear introns in hybrid identification: three case studies. Pacific Science Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
2011 Fernandez-Silva I, Andrews KR, Gaither MR, Snelgrove BN, Bowen BW, Toonen RJ. Towards ecosystem-based management in Hawaii: Insights into genetic connectivity in a multispecies comparison. Smithsonian National Museum of National History sponsored: Evolution of life on Pacific Islands and Reefs: Past, Present, and Future, University of Hawaii, Honolulu (poster)
2010 Gaither MR, Toonen RJ, Bowen BW. Phylogeography as a predictor of success in marine invasions: a Hawaiian case study. Evolution Conference, Portland
2010 Gaither MR, Bowen B, Toonen R, Planes S, Messmer V, Earle J, Robertson R. Genetic consequences of introducing allopatric lineages of Bluestriped Snapper (Lutjanus kasmira) to Hawaii. American Genetic Association Annual Symposium, Conservation Genomics, Hilo, Hawaii (poster)
2009 *Gaither MR, Bowen BW, Toonen RJ, Planes S, Robertson DR. Endemism among Marquesan shore fishes: Genetic perspectives from two widespread Indo-Pacific snappers (Lutjanus spp). 8th Indo Pacific Fish Conference, Perth, Australia
2009 Gaither MR, Bowen BW, Bordenave T, Craig MT. Indo-Pacific Barrier: where is the line? Insight from a widely distributed grouper. 8th Indo Pacific Fish Conference, Perth, Australia (poster)
2009 Gaither MR, Bowen BW, Toonen RJ, Planes S, Robertson DR. Endemism in Marquesan shore fishes: A case study of Indo-Pacific snappers. 4th Biennial Meeting of the International Biogeography Society, Merida, Mexico
2008 Gaither MR, Toonen RJ, Bowen BW,. The Hawaiian fish introductions: what makes a good invader? Hawai‘i Conservation Conference, Honolulu
2008 Gaither MR, Bowen BW, Toonen RJ, Planes S, Robertson DR. Genetic evaluation of the fish introductions in Hawai‘i: using biogeography to explain invasion success. 11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Ft Lauderdale
2008 Gaither MR, Choat H, Messmer V, Planes S, Robertson R, Toonen R, Bowen B. The Lutjanus kasmira introduction to Hawaii: using genetics to study an invasion. 11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Ft Lauderdale (poster)
2006 Gaither MR. Genetic evaluation of the ta’ape (Lutjanus kasmira) introduction in Hawai‘I Albert L Tester Memorial Symposium. University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, Honolulu
2006 Gaither MR, Bowen BW, Toonen RJ, Planes S, Robertson DR. Genetic evaluation of the ta’ape introduction in Hawaii: preliminary data. Joint Meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, New Orleans

 

INVITED SEMINARS

2013 From genes to genomes: phylogeography and the evolution of marine fishes, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
2013 From genes to genomes: phylogeography and the evolution of marine fishes, NOVA Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale
2012 How phylogeography informs invasion biology: lessons from Hawaiian fish introductions, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco
2010 Molecular Ecology of Marine Fishes. Soroptimist International Founder Region Annual Meetings, Honolulu
2010 Alien fishes in Hawai‘i: what genetics can tell us. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve Education Program, Honolulu
2008 Ta’ape and Roi: the visitors that never left. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve Education Program, Honolulu
2007 Genetic evaluation of the Lutjanus kasmira introduction to Hawai‘i. Evolunch, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, Honolulu
2006 Genetic stock structure in the deep water snappers opakakapaka, ehu, and onaga in Hawai‘i Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council Bottomfish Meetings, Honolulu

 

TEACHING EXPERIENCE

Teaching
1995-1996 Human Anatomy Laboratory, University of Guam
1995-1996 Environmental Science Laboratory, University of Guam
1989-1990 General Biology Laboratory, College of Alameda
 
Guest Lecturer
2011 An introduction to molecular ecology, Topics in Marine Biology, Kapi‘olani Community College, Honolulu
2010 The genetics of introduced fishes in Hawai‘i, Marine Biology, Windward Community College, Kaneohe, Hawai‘i
2007 Molecular ecology of reef fishes, Introduction to Marine Biology, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa
 
Mentoring
2006-2011 Professor Benedicta O. Mbu Oben (visiting scholar, University of Buea, Cameroon), Moises Bernal (Ph.D. candidate, University of Texas), Eva Sala, Hudson Pinheiro (Ph.D. candidates, UC Santa Cruz), Yu-ichiro Meguro (Ph.D. candidate, Hokkaido University), Richard Coleman (M.S. student, University of Hawai‘i), Shelley Jones, Bethany Kimokeo (undergraduates, University of Hawai‘i), Tiana-Rae Bordenave, Laurie Sorenson (undergraduates, Hawai‘i Pacific University).
 
Public outreach
2012 “Oceans Nightlife”, California Academy of Sciences
2010-2011 “SOEST Open House”, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai‘i

 

MEDIA COVERAGE

2012, August 28th “Alienating the alien nation,” Hawai‘i Public Radio, The Conversation with Beth-Ann Kozolovich, (minute 36:25)

2012, August 20th “From invader to dominator: understanding the new species in a habitat,” Brent Smith for redOrbit.com

2010 “Where are they now? The fates of two genetic lineages in an introduced Hawaiian reef fish” News and Views Article, Molecular Ecology 19: 1073-1074, Joseph E. Neigel, University of Louisiana

 

FIELD EXPEDITIONS

2013 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Chagos Archipelago, Indian Ocean; Curaçao, Caribbean
2011 Farasan Islands, Thuwal, & Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
2010 Main Hawaiian Islands; Moorea, Society Islands; Nuku Hiva, Marquesas; Palmyra Atoll, Line Islands
2009 Northwest Hawaiian Islands
2008 Phoenix Islands
2007 Northwest Hawaiian Islands; Moorea, Society Islands
2006 Kiritimati Island, Line Islands
1998 Bahamas

 

NON-ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE

2004-2005 Marine Technician, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, CA
Supervised all deck operations while at sea and assembled, operated, and maintained sampling equipment for collection of geological, physical, chemical, and biological data
2003 Salmon Hatchery Technician, Southeast Aquaculture Association, AK
Performed daily inspection of hatchery, collected brood stock, fed fish, administered drug treatments, and cleaned raceways and net pens
2000-2001 Lobster Restoration Project Manager, DeAlteris Associates, Inc, RI
Recruited and trained commercial lobsterman to participate in the North Cape Lobster Restoration project, inspected, tagged, and v-notched lobsters as part of the lobster release team
1999-2000 Fisheries Observer, Professional & Technical Services, Inc, VA
Acted as a shipboard agent of the National Marine Fisheries Service, documented catch composition and fishing effort

 

MILITARY SERVICE

1987-1993 Carpentry/Masonry Specialist, United States Army Reserves 801st Engineering Company, Oakland, CA (Honorably Discharged)

 

CERTIFICATIONS

AAUS Scientific Diver, 1996
NAUI Dive Master, 1997
NOAA Certified Boat Coxswain, 2007
PADI Dry Suit Diver, 2013

 

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS

American Association of Underwater Scientists
American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
American Genetics Association
American Society of Naturalists
Graduate Women in Science Alpha Lambda Chapter
International Biogeography Society
Sigma Xi

PUBLICATIONS

1. Gaither MR, Schultz JK, Pyle R, Rocha LA, Bellwood D, Bowen BW. The evolutionary history and phylogeny of pygmy angelfishes (Genus Centropyge). In preparation for Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Accepted pending minor revision.

2. Gaither MR, Wagner, D (2013) Promiscuous associations: observations of gold-saddle goatfishes in the Chagos Archipelago (Indian Ocean). Bulletin of Marine Science, doi: 10.5343/bms.2013.1067.

3. Laptikhovsky V, Gaither MR, Black A. (2013) A Pacific grenadier Coryphaenoides acrolepis in the South-west Atlantic and environmental changes in the Falkland deep seas. Marine Biodiversity Records, 6, doi:10.1017/S1755267213001061.

4. Gaither MR, Rocha LA (2013) Origins of species richness in the Indo-Pacific biodiversity hotspot: evidence for the Center of Overlap hypothesis. Journal of Biogeography, 40, 1638-1648.

5. Gaither MR, Bowen BW, Toonen RJ. (2013) Population structure in the native range predicts the spread of introduced marine species. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: B, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.0409.

6. Rocha, LA, Bernal MA, Gaither MR, Alfaro M (2013) Massive Parallel Sequencing: applications for Biogeography. Frontiers in Biogeography, 5(1), fb_16189, http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/7xv39142.

7. Bowen BW, Rocha LA, Toonen RJ, Karl SA, Craig MT, DiBattista JD, Eble JA, Gaither MR, Skillings D, Bird CJ (2013) Origins of tropical marine biodiversity. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 28, 359-366.

8. Gaither MR, Aeby G, Vignon M, Wood C, Meguro Y, Bowen BW (2013) An invasive fish and the time-lagged spread of its parasite across the Hawaiian Archipelago. PLoS One, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056940.

9. DiBattista JD, Berumen ML, Gaither MR, Rocha LA, Eble JA, Choat JH, Craig MT, Skillings DJ, Bowen BW (2013) After continents divide: comparative phylogeography of reef fishes from the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Journal of Biogeography, doi: 10.1111/jbi.12068.

10. Gaither MR, Randall JE (2013) Reclassification of the Indo-Pacific Hawkfish Cirrhitus pinnulatus (Forster). Zootaxa, 3599, 189-196.

11. Gaither MR, Randall JE (2012) On the validity of the Cirrhitid fish genus Itycirrhitus Aqua: International Journal of Ichthyology, 18, 219-226.

12. Gaither MR, Toonen RJ, Bowen BW (2012) Coming out of the starting blocks: Extended lag time rearranges genetic diversity in introduced marine fishes of Hawai'i. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: B, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.1481.

13. Sheppard C et al. (2012) Reefs and islands of the Chagos Archipelago, Indian Ocean: Why it is the world’s largest no-take marine protected area. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 22, 232-261.

14. DiBattista JD, Waldrop E, Bowen BW, Schultz JK, Gaither MR, Pyle RL, Rocha LA (2012) Twisted sister species of Pygmy Angelfishes: discordance between taxonomy, coloration, and phylogenetics. Coral Reefs, 31, 839-851.

15. Gaither MR, Jones SA, Kelley C, Newman SJ, Sorenson L, Bowen BW (2011) High connectivity in the deepwater snapper Pristipomoides filamentosus (Lutjanidae) across the Indo-Pacific with isolation of the Hawaiian Archipelago. PLoS ONE, 6, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028913.

16. Gaither MR, Bowen BW, Bordenave T, Rocha LA, Newman SJ, Gomez JA, van Herwerden L, Craig MT (2011) Phylogeography of the reef fish Cephalopholis argus (Epinephelidae) indicates Pleistocene isolation across the Indo-Pacific Barrier with contemporary overlap in the Coral Triangle. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 11, 189.

17. Gaither MR, Szabo Z, Crepeau M, Bird C, Toonen RJ (2011) Preservation of corals in salt-saturated DMSO/EDTA buffer (SSD) is superior to ethanol for PCR experiments. Coral Reefs, 30, 329-333.

18. Toonen RJ, Andrews KR, Baums IB, Bird CE, Concepcion GT, Daly-Engel TS, Eble JA, Faucci A, Gaither MR, Iacchei M, Puritz JB, Schultz JK, Skillings DJ, Timmers M, Bowen BW (2011) Defining boundaries for ecosystem-based management: A multispecies case study of marine connectivity across the Hawaiian Archipelago. Journal of Marine Biology, doi: 10.1155/2011/460173.

19. Leis JM, Hay AC, Gaither MR (2011) Swimming ability and its rapid decrease at settlement in wrasse larvae (Teleostei: Labridae). Marine Biology, 158, 1239-1246.

20. Gaither MR, Bowen BW, Toonen RJ, Planes S, Messmer V, Earle J, Robertson DR (2010) Genetic consequences of introducing two allopatric lineages of Bluestripe Snapper (Lutjanus kasmira) to Hawai‘i. Molecular Ecology, 19, 1107-1121.

21. Gaither MR, Toonen RJ, Sorenson L, Bowen BW (2010) Isolation and characterization of microsatellite markers for the Crimson Jobfish, Pristipomoides filamentosus (Lutjanidae). Conservation Genetics Resources, 2, 169-172.

22. Gaither MR, Toonen RJ, Robertson DR, Planes S, Bowen BW (2010) Genetic evaluation of marine biogeographic barriers: Perspectives from two widespread Indo-Pacific snappers (Lutjanus kasmira and Lutjanus fulvus). Journal of Biogeography, 37, 133-147.

23. Gaither MR, Rowan R (2010) The planular symbiosis in Pocillopora damicornis. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 386, 45-53.

 

MANUSCRIPTS IN REVIEW/PREPARATION

1. Gaither MR, Coleman R, Bowen BW, Rocha LA. Evolutionarily relationships of the Orangeband Surgeonfish complex and the utility of color as a taxonomic tool. In preparation for Evolution.

2. Coleman RR, Gaither MR, Bowen BW, Kimokeo B, Staton F, Toonen, RJ. Hybridization between a Hawaiian endemic and a recent immigrant. In preparation for Molecular Ecology.

 

BOOK CHAPTERS

Sheppard CRC, Bowen BW, Chen CA, Craig MT, Eble J, Fitzsimmons N, Gaither MR, et al. British Indian Ocean Territory (the Chagos Archipelago): setting, connections and the marine protected area. In Coral Reefs of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories (eds. Rigel BM, Purkis SJ), Springer Netherlands, Heidelberg.

Contact

  • Michelle R. Gaither
  • Research Associate
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • 55 Music Concourse Drive
  • San Francisco, CA 94118