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Profile of Dr Mat Seymour

Mat Seymour
Postdoctoral Research Officer
01248 388768
Molecular Ecology and Fisheries Genetics Laboratory
School of Biological 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), which I have performed in previous Masters and PhD work, but require taxon specific knowledge. Recent advances in molecular techniques now allow for alternative and rapid assessment of biodiversity using environmental sampling, which allows for more a more generalized set of molecular tools to characterize a much wider range of biodiversity compared to traditional methods. Presently I am assessing the power of using environmental DNA (eDNA) to assess diversity patterns in rivers using high through-put sequencing and quantitative PCR (qPCR) in conjunction with traditional taxonomic assessments of biodiversity across Welsh rivers.



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 , Environmental Entomology, Freshwater Biology, Hydrobiologia, Journal of Ecology, Journal of Animal Ecology, Molecular Ecology Resources, Oikos, Proceedings of the Royal Society B and Scientific Reports

External Funding

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. However, further assessment is needed regarding the persistence of eDNA within different environments. Additionally it is paramount that eDNA detection methods properly supplement traditional measures of biodiversity. Presently, in collaboration with Prof. Si Creer, and the rest of the LOFRESH team (website), we are looking to assess the persistence of eDNA in river systems using field experiments in Llyn Brianne experimental flumes (Seymour et al. In Review Com. Biology) in collaboration with Cardiff University, and in the Conwy catchment in collaboration with the Center for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) using high throughput sequencing techniques in collaboration with Birmingham University. Additionally we will assess the ability of using eDNA to assess biodiversity across Welsh rivers combined with a national biodiversity monitoring program with CEH.

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.)


Peer-reviewed publications

Deiner K, Bik H, Mächler E, Seymour M, Lacoursière-Roussel A, Altermatt F, Creer S, Bista I,Lodge D, de Vere N, Pfrender M, Bernatchez L. (2017). Must you see to believe? Environmental DNA metabarcoding. In Press at Molecular Ecology.

Seymour M, Driese KL, Waggener RW. (2017). Vegetation mapping of Rogers Research Site, north Laramie Mountains, Wyoming, using high spatial resolution photography and heads-up digitizing. In press for Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 4

Pennekamp F, Griffiths JI, Fronhofer EA, Garnier A, Seymour M, Altermatt F, Petchey OL. (2017) Dynamic species classification of microorganisms across time, abiotic and biotic environments – a sliding window approach. PlosOne. 12, e0176682. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176682

Bista I, Carvalho G, Walsh K, Seymour M, Hajibabaei M, Lallias D, Christmas M, Creer S. (2017). Annual time-series analysis of aqueous eDNA reveals ecologically relevant dynamics of lake ecosystem biodiversity. Nature Communications. 8: 14087 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14087

Creer, S. and Seymour, M. (2017). Marine ecology: Genetics from a drop in the ocean. Nature Ecology and Evolution. 1: 037. DOI: 10.1038/s41559-016-0037

Seymour M., K. Liljeroos, E. Mächler, & F. Altermatt. (2016) Lessons from the macroinvertebrates: species-genetic diversity correlations highlight important dissimilar relationships. Freshwater Biology. 61, 1819–1829. DOI: 10.1111/fwb.128161.

Seymour M., O. P. Perera, H. W. Fescemyer, R. E. Jackson, S. J. Fleischer, and C. A. Abel. (2016) Peripheral genetic structure of Bollworm (Helicoverpa zea) indicates asynchronous panmixia. Ecology and Evolution. 6(10), 3198-3207. DOI: 10.1111/fwb.12816

Seymour M., K. Deiner, & F. Altermatt. (2016) Scale and scope matter when explaining varying patterns of community composition in river networks. Basic and Applied Ecology. 17(2): 134-144. DOI: 10.1016/j.baae.2015.10.007

Carrara, F., Giometto, A., Seymour, M., Rinaldo, A, & Altermatt, F. (2015) Experimental evidence for strong stabilizing forces at high functional diversity of aquatic microbial communities. Ecology. 96(5), 1340–1350. DOI: 10.1890/14-1324.1

Seymour M., E. Fronhofer, & F. Altermatt. (2015) Dendritic network structure and dispersal affect temporal dynamics of diversity and species persistence. Oikos. 124: 908-916. DOI: 10.1111/oik.02354

Carrara, F., Giometto, A., Seymour, M., Rinaldo, A., & Altermatt, F. (2015) Inferring species interactions in ecological communities: a comparison of methods at different levels of complexity. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 6: 895-906. DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12363

Seymour M & Altermatt F (2014) Active colonization dynamics and diversity patterns are influenced by dendritic network connectivity and species interactions. Ecology and Evolution. 4, 1243-1254. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.1020

Altermatt F, Seymour M, Martinez N (2013) River network properties shape α-diversity and community similarity patterns of aquatic insect communities across major drainage basins. Journal of Biogeography. 40, 2249-2260. DOI: 10.1111/jbi.12178

Seymour M, Räsänen K, Holderegger R, Kristjánsson BK (2013) Connectivity in a pond system influences migration and genetic structure in threespine stickleback. Ecology and Evolution. 3, 492-502. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.476

Seymour MS, Ott KE, Guertin DA, Golden HN, McDonald DB, Ben-David M. (2012) Early Holocene glacial retreat isolated populations of river otters (Lontra canadensis) along the Alaskan coast. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 90, 1136-1148. DOI: 10.1139/z2012-082

Publications in review/preparation

Seymour M, Durance I, Cosby BJ, Ransom-Jones E, Deiner K, Wilgar G, Ormerod SJ, Colbourne JK, Edwards F, Bik H, Emmett BA, deBruyn M, Carvalho G, Creer S. Acidity promotes degradation of multi-species eDNA in lotic mesocosms. In Review at Communications Biology

Martin EJ, Seymour M, Gufler C, Doering M, Robinson C. Macroinvertebrate seedbanks of gravel bars in flow regulated rivers. In review at Freshwater Biology

Deiner K, Lacoursière-Roussel A, Renshaw M, Grey E, Bourne S, Rius M, Seymour M, Li Y, Lopez J, Pfrender M, Lodge D.Effect of filter type, pore size and extraction method on detection of biodiversity from environmental DNA within shipping ports. In Preparation

Seymour M, Kristjánsson BK, Räsänen K. Ecomorphology of Belgjarskógur threespine stickleback: correlations between morphology, ecology and diet at a fine spatial scale. In Preparation

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