?> Profile of William Bernard Perry | Molecular Ecology and Evolution at Bangor (MEEB) | Bangor University

Profile of William Bernard Perry

William Bernard Perry
Research Associate
Environment Centre Wales (3rd floor), School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW, UK


I have long been interested in the application of molecular methods to better understand the ecology and evolution of the natural world; while also retaining the ability to combine state-of-the-art molecular techniques with a broad array of interdisciplinary techniques.

I first joined MEEB as a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded PhD student in 2016, after having finished a MSci at the University of Bristol (with involvement in projects primarily focused population genetics). The PhD was focused around the impact of domestication on the phenotype of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), while also identifying the impact of hybridisation between wild and domesticated populations. The fish from domesticated, wild and hybrid (wild x domesticated) backgrounds were reared in a common garden, by project partners at the Institute of Marine Research, Bergen. I used molecular parentage (microsatellite markers) to identify the genetic background of the fish in the common garden. Therefore, environmental variation was kept consistent between the varying genetic backgrounds, allowing me to assess aspects of morphology such as eye size, fin size, body shape and secondary sexual characters. In addition, traits such as heart morphology, liver size, brain morphology and the gut microbiome were also assessed.

To assess the impact of domestication on the gut microbiome in my PhD, I was introduced to metabarcoding and high-throughput next generation sequencing (NGS) workflows. In 2020 I started a Post-Doctoral Research position in MEEB applying the same NGS techniques to freshwater lotic environmental DNA (eDNA) as part of the LOFRESH project. The project aims to monitor how eDNA moves through fast moving freshwater environments, allowing for a better understanding of the ecological trends uncovered from eDNA methodologies and how these relate to the real biological communities. To achieve this, an extensive sampling effort and sequencing was undertaken across multiple geographic scales and I will be testing hypotheses focused on the ecological relevance of freshwater eDNA, working with the collective expertise from LOFRESH partners at Cardiff University, University of Birmingham, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and beyond.
Follow me on Twitter @WillPerryMEEB, and check #LOFRESH for updates on the project!


Quick CV

Conferences attended

  • American Fisheries Society meeting, Reno, Nevada, USA: Sexy salmon: implications of sexual selection, aquaculture and escapees on secondary sexual characters in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). 1st – 3rd October 2019.
  • One Drop conference, Cardiff University: Evolutionary drivers of kype size in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar): domestication, age and genetics (best presentation award). 4th July 2019.
  • Bangor University, College Conference: Evolutionary drivers of kype size in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar): domestication, age and genetics (best presentation award). 11th Jan. 2019.
  • International Workshop of PhD and Post-doctoral fellows on Anadromous Salmonids (NoWPaS), Oulanka, Finland: Domestication and the microbiome: insights from Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) aquaculture. 13th – 17th Mar. 2018.
  • Horizon Scanning Aquaculture Workshop, Cardiff University, UK: 26th – 27th Feb. 2018.
  • European Animal Microbiome Congress, London, UK: Domestication and the microbiome: insights from Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) aquaculture. 30th – 31st Oct. 2017.
  • FSBI: Understanding Fish Populations, University of Exeter, UK: From morphology to microbiome: common garden amplicon studies in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). 3rd – 7th July 2017.
  • 51st Population Genetics Group, University of Bristol, UK. 3rd – 6th Jan. 2017.
  • Young Systematists Forum, Natural History Museum, London, UK: Insights into cichlid population history using whole genome data and Bayesian computation. 25th Nov. 2016.
  • WEEN, mid-Wales, UK: Bayesian computation and East African cichlids. 4th – 6th Nov. 2016.
  • FSBI: Fish, Genes & Genomes, Bangor University, UK: Insights into cichlid population history using whole genome data and Bayesian computation. 18th – 22nd July 2016.
  • FSBI: Biology, Ecology and Conservation of Elasmobranchs, University of Plymouth, UK. 27th – 31st July 2015.

Positions & Responsibilities

  • WEEN organiser (2016–2019)
  • MEEB seminar organiser (2016–2018)
  • NoWPaS organiser (2018)
  • FSBI Publicity Officer (2020 – present)

Memberships: Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Genetics Society, NoWPaS.
Awards: Drapers medal for outstanding postgraduate contribution.

Linkedin Profile
ResearchGate Profil


Current research

Title: LOFRESH – understanding the ecological relevance of lotic eDNA


Working with partners at Cardiff University, University of Birmingham, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and beyond, I will be working to deliver research and outputs from the LOFRESH work packages, and in particular work packages 2, and 5. In doing so, we aim to:

  1. Track seasonal and hydrological induced changes in natural eDNA sources through its transit throughout the extremely well characterized river Conwy catchment
  2. Compare movement of eDNA through an array of catchments, including the rivers Conwy and Towy, Wales, the river Glatt, Switzerland, the river Gwash in England, and Skaneateles Creek, USA
  3. Track and compare the movement of eDNA through sites of lotic freshwater across Wales, while combining with a broad array of physiochemical and ecological metadata
  4. Experimentally test the linkages between land use pressures and eDNA signals in relation to freshwater decomposition


Environmental DNA (eDNA) is the DNA left behind by organisms in their environment, which can be in the form shed cells or extracellular DNA. Sources of eDNA can therefore come from a plethora of hosts living in the freshwater environment, ranging from fish to invertebrates. The ability to detect organisms by filtering water for eDNA, without that organism having to be caught, as with traditional invasive surveying methods, makes it a powerful tool for biodiversity monitoring. In addition to this, the high throughput sequencing technologies used to assess communities from eDNA provide substantial amounts of data that could provide insights into ecological process. However, before ecological signals can be inferred from this data, we must first understand how the eDNA molecule behaves in response to properties of its environment.

Despite an ever-increasing number of research and monitoring institutions using eDNA to understand lotic freshwater environments, many parameters that influence how eDNA moves and degrades in a system remain unknown. LOFRESH is aimed at addressing some of these unknowns, by combining extensive spatial and geographic sampling of eDNA, in combination with a comprehensive catalogue of metadata. Metadata including aspects of physiochemical water properties, such as pH, but also factors that may also influence geomorphology of the river, such as land use.  
Freshwater lotic systems and the biodiversity they sustain provide an important range of ecosystem functions, while also being an important cultural location for many societies across the globe. Despite this, freshwater ecosystems face degradation due to multiple anthropogenic pressures. Therefore, finding effective tools to document lotic freshwater biodiversity, and the ecology driving it, is crucial for conservation. 





  • PublishedConnectivity in the deep: Phylogeography of the velvet belly lanternshark
    Gubili, C., Macleod, K., Perry, W., Hanel, P., Batzakas, I., Farrell, E. D., Lynghammar, A., Mancusi, C., Mariani, S., Menezes, G. M., Neat, F., Scarcella, G. & Griffiths, A. M., Sep 2016, In : Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers. 115, p. 233-239
    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle