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Friso Palstra

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Status : Post-doctoral researcher

Contact :

Location : Jardin des Plantes, rue Buffon

Research team
- Population Genetics




Present work

The genetic diversity present in contemporary populations reflects the combined influences of past evolutionary and demographic processes, and can hence be informative on the demographic and evolutionary history of those populations. My work within the group focuses on statistical inference on genetic data to elucidate the demographic history of present-day ethnic groups in Central Asia. This part of the world has long been inhabited by humans and also lies at the crossroads of main corridors of human migration, as for example illustrated by the Silk Road in historical times. A long-standing issue is whether the relative high genetic diversity present in humans here reflects a long-term presence or rather the result of repeated admixtures caused by the migrations of peoples into and through this region in more recent, historical times.

My research employs methods of likelihood inference as well as approximate Bayesian computational approaches, making extensive use of computer simulations. The analyses utilize neutral autosomal and mitochondrial genetic data, collected from both contemporary groups in the region and historically present populations. These latter populations are studied by analyses of ancient DNA obtained from historical and pre-historical burial sites throughout the region. This work is conducted in collaboration with the Paleogenetics Group of Joachim Burger at the University of Mainz.


Professional background

My general research interests lie in the application of evolutionary theory and genetic methods to contemporary issues in the conservation and management of natural populations, as well as the elucidation of their demographic history. I am interested in the functional relationship between ecology and evolution in general and demographic processes and genetic aspects of populations in particular. This fundamental link between ecology and evolution is central to formulating evolutionary predictions from field data, and to the utility of genetic monitoring efforts. The relative importance of demographic versus genetic stochasticity in shaping population persistence is hence highly pertinent to conservation and management strategies.

My training and research backgrounds are in marine biology, conservation genetics and molecular genetics. In the past I have participated in research projects on a diverse array of organisms, such as the specificity of coral-algal symbioses in hard corals on the Great Barrier Reef, conservation genetics and population dynamics modelling of Atlantic salmon in Canadian rivers, and genetic parentage analyses in bats.




Palstra, F.P., Heyer E. & Austerlitz, F. Reconstructing the demographic history of peoples in Central Asia using statistical inference on genetic data (in preparation)

Patriquin, K., Palstra, F.P., Leonard, M. & Broders, H. Female northern myotis (Myotis septentrionalis) that roost together are related. Behavioral Ecology (Advance Access)

Johnstone, D., O’Connell, M.F., Palstra, F.P. & Ruzzante, D.E. Mature male parr contribution to the effective size of an anadromous Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) population over 30 years. Molecular Ecology (22(9):2394-2407)

Gomez-Uchida, D., Palstra, F.P., Knight, T.W. & Ruzzante, D.E. Contemporary effective population and metapopulation size (Ne and meta-Ne) : Comparison among three salmonids inhabiting a fragmented system and differing in gene flow and its asymmetries. Ecology and Evolution 3(3) : 569-580

Palstra, F.P. & Fraser, D.J. (2012) Effective-census population size ratios in ecology and evolution : a compendium and appraisal. Ecology and Evolution 2(9) : 2357-2365

Palstra, F.P. & Dionne, M.E. (2011) Analyse de viabilité de populations de saumon atlantique (Salmo salar) : premiers développements de l’approche au Québec. Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune Secteur Faune. Direction de l’expertise sur la faune et ses habitats, Service de la faune aquatique, 101 p.

Palstra, F.P. & Ruzzante D.E. (2011) Demographic and genetic factors shaping contemporary metapopulation effective size and its empirical estimation in salmonid fish. Heredity 107 : 444-455

Hare, M., Nunney, L., Schwartz, M.K., Ruzzante, D.E., Burford, M., Waples, R.S., Ruegg, K. & Palstra, F.P. (2011) Understanding and estimating effective population size for practical application in marine conservation and management. Conservation Biology 25(3) : 438-439

Palstra, F.P. & Ruzzante, D.E. (2010) A temporal perspective on population structure and gene flow in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in Newfoundland. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 67(2) : 225-242

Palstra, F.P., O’Connell, M.F. & Ruzzante, D.E. (2009) Age structure, changing demography and effective population size in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Genetics 182(4) : 1233-1249

Palstra, F.P. & Ruzzante, D.E. (2008) Genetic estimates of contemporary effective population size : what can they tell us about the importance of genetic stochasticity for wild population persistence ? Invited Review. Molecular Ecology 17:3428-3447

Palstra, F.P., O’Connell, M.F. & Ruzzante, D.E. (2007) Population structure and gene flow reversals in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) over contemporary and long-term temporal scales : effects of population size and life history. Molecular Ecology 16 : 4504-4522

Palstra, F.P., O’Connell, M.F. & Ruzzante, D.E. (2006) Temporal stability of population genetic structure of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in Newfoundland. Journal of Fish Biology 69 (Supplement C) : 241

Van Oppen, M.J.H., Palstra, F.P., Piquet, A.M.T. & Miller, D.J. (2001) Patterns of coral-dinoflagellate associations in Acropora : significance of local availability and physiology of Symbiodinium strains and host-symbiont selectivity. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B : Biological Sciences 268 (1478):1759-1767

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Last modified 14th February 2013