Profile of Dr Mat Seymour

Mat Seymour
Postdoctoral Research Officer
01248 388768
Molecular Ecology and Fisheries Genetics Laboratory
School of Natural Sciences
Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW


Ecosystem health and stability are closely linked to biodiversity dynamics (local, spatially and temporally). My interest are in understanding the processes that shape spatial biodiversity patterns, and subsequent inter and intraspecific responses. Traditionally, such assessments have been completed using physical descriptive methods (e.g., taxonomic identification and morphological characterization). Recent advances in molecular techniques now allow for alternative and rapid assessment of biodiversity using environmental sampling, allowing for more a more generalized set of analytical tools to characterize a much wider range of biodiversity. Presently I am assessing the power of using environmental DNA (eDNA) to assess diversity patterns and eDNA persistence dyanmics in rivers using high through-put sequencing and quantitative PCR (qPCR), in conjunction with traditional taxonomic assessments of biodiversity across large temporal and spatial scales.



2014 PhD. On the Biodiversity of rivers and river-like networks. SNF funded. ETH/Eawag, Zurich, Switzerland

2011. MSc. Threespine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) in Belgjarskógur, Iceland: Phenotypic and genetic divergence at a small spatial scale. Ranis funded. Hólar University College, Hólar, Iceland.

2007. BA in Wildlife Management & BA in Environment Natural Resources, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, USA


2016 – present: Postdoctoral Research Associate. NERC funded. Understanding the ecological relevance of eDNA in freshwater lotic ecosystems (LOFRESH). Bangor University, Bangor, Wales

2015 -2016: Postdoctoral Research Associate. USDA-ARS, Stoneville, Mississippi, USA.

Professional Actives

Member of the:

British Ecological Society (BES)
Freshwater Biological Association
COST-Action: Developing new genetic tools for bioassessment of aquatic ecosystems in Europe

I have peer-reviewed articles for; Aquatic Ecology, Axios, Chemosphere, Ecology Letters, Environmental Entomology, Freshwater Biology, Hydrobiologia, Journal of Ecology, Journal of Animal Ecology, Molecular Ecology, Molecular Ecology Resources, Oikos, PeerJ Proceedings of the Royal Society B and Scientific Reports

Mentoring Experience

Co-supervisor – Tasnim Faiez (Masters at University of Birmingham) Viral diversity derived from eDNA sampling methods

Co-supervisor - Molly Victoria Czachur (PhD candidate at Stellenbosch University)
Using environmental DNA metabarcoding to reveal genetic fish diversity in multiple marine systems of South Africa

Co-supervisor - Delene Bezuidenhout (Masters at Stellenbosch University)
Monitoring biodiversity recovery after trawling using environmental DNA approaches

Lead supervisor - Masters for Antony Smith  (Mres candidate at Bangor University)
Modelling Arctic charr population dynamics to assess the outcome of management interventions.

Lead supervisor - Rashnat Moushomi (M-degree at Bangor University; graduated 2018)
Exploring the Origin of Macrobial Environmental DNA (eDNA) Via Size Sorted qPCR

Co-supervisor - Gregory Wilgar (Masters from Bangor University; graduated 2017)
Understanding the Fate of Macrobial Environmental DNA in Freshwater Biofilms

Co-supervisor - Matthew Jones (M-degree from Bangor University; graduated 2017)
DNA barcoding of freshwater invertebrate indicator species

External Funding

2017 KESS 2 Mres studentship (lead PI)                                          £20,677
2017 KESS 2 PhD studentship (co-PI)                                              £23,545
2017 Santander Travel Grant                                                             £1,000
2008 EPSCoR undergraduate research fellowship                           $700
2007 Wildlife Society student travel grant                                          $250
2007 Wyoiming View Scholarship                                                      $500


Twitter: @MatSeymour


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Present: Understanding the ecological relevance of eDNA in freshwater lotic ecosystems (LOFRESH)

Environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling, combined with modern molecular techniques, is revolutionizing ecological research and directly impacting biomonitoring procedures (Deiner et al. 2017). However, further assessment is needed regarding the persistence and transport dynamics of eDNA in natural environments. What more, It is important that eDNA detection methods properly supplement traditional measures of biodiversity to synergize ongoing research and monitoring efforts. LOFRESH is a massive international collaboration, based at Bangor Univeristy (website). Our research involves mescosms experiments at Llyn Brianne reservoir (Seymour et al. 2018), managed by Cardiff University, where we have assessed the persistence dynamics of eDNA across environmental gradients. Monitoring seasonal patterns of eDNA transport and detection dynamics in the Conwy catchment in north wales, in continuation of previous research (Bista et al. 2017), in collaboration with the Center for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH). Additionally we will assess the ability of using eDNA to assess biodiversity across Welsh rivers combined with a national biodiversity monitoring program with CEH, Cardiff, University of Zurich and Cornell University.

PhD thesis: On the biodiversity of rivers and river-like networks

Understanding the processes that shape biodiversity is a fundamental topic of ecology and important in the context of ecosystem services and disease prevention. Metacommunity ecology assesses the influence of local and spatial processes on the biodiversity of communities of interacting species connected by dispersal. However, metacommunity studies have primarily used simplified linear or lattice networks, which may not relate to more complex natural spatial networks, such as rivers, and dendritic river-like networks. The overall aim of this thesis was to determine the importance of network structure, specifically dendritic networks found in river systems, on temporal diversity dynamics and whether observed spatial patterns of biodiversity are consistent across different measures and levels of biodiversity. We conducted experiments using protist to assess colonization dynamics between linear and dendritic networks (Seymour & Altermatt 2014) and metacommunity persistence (Seymour, Fronhofer & Altermatt 2015). Additionally, we assessed how spatial-environmental factors influence biodiversity patterns of EPT species; measured as species, functional and phylogenetic diversity, across the Rhine river network in Switzerland (Seymour, Deiner & Altermatt 2016). Finally, we evaluated the relationship between species and genetic diversity using freshwater macroinvertebrates across the Swiss Rhine river network (Seymour et al. 2016)

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Master’s Thesis: Threespine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) in Belgjarskógur, Iceland: Phenotypic and genetic divergence at a small spatial scale

Studies involving within species divergence (microevolution) attempt to distinguish early evolutionary dynamics and suggest ecological speciation, genetic drift, and limits to gene flow as key factors. The main objective of this study was to assess the extent and determinants of phenotypic and genetic diversification in an evolutionarily young system of threespine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) at a small spatial scale (Belgjarskógur near Lake Mývatn, Iceland). We investigated the relationship between landscape connectivity and genetic distance of threespine stickleback inhabiting Belgjarskógur using two landscape genetic approaches (Seymour et al. 2013). Our findings suggest migration among stickleback populations occurs via periodically flooded areas. Additionally, we assessed the relationships between morphological variation and environmental (e.g., selection) and genetic (e.g., neutral) variation among Belgjarskógur stickleback populations (Seymour, Kristjánsson & Räsänen In Prep.)