Location: Bowdoin / Sarah Kingston


Sarah Kingston

Doherty Marine Biology Postdoctoral Scholar

Contact Information


Banister Hall - 113

Teaching this semester

BIOL 2330 / ENVS 2233. Marine Molecular Ecology and Evolution

Sarah Kingston
Features the application of molecular data to ecological and evolutionary problems in the sea. Hands on laboratory work will introduce students to sampling, generation, and analysis of molecular data sets with Sanger-based technology and Next Generation Sequencing. Lectures, discussions, and computer-based simulations will demonstrate the relevant theoretical principles of population genetics and phylogenetics. A class project will begin a long-term sampling program that uses DNA barcoding to understand temporal and spatial change in the ocean. Taught in residence at the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory, Biology 2330/Environmental Studies 2233 is a course-module in the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester. Biology 2232 (same as Environmental Studies 2232), Biology 2501 (same as Environmental Studies 2231), and English 2802 (same as Environmental Studies 2802) are co-requisites of this course.

Sarah KingstonEducation

  • B.A. (William and Mary)
  • M.S. (College of Charleston)
  • Ph.D. (University of Maryland)

Background and Research Interests

I am a molecular ecologist interested in gene flow across species boundaries as well as changing selective pressures associated with climate change. I utilize natural population variation to link genotype and phenotype. I have conducted research on many different taxa, from cetaceans to birds to molluscs. Currently, I am focusing on blue mussels in the Gulf of Maine and their adaptive potential in the face of ocean acidification.

As physical and chemical features of the ocean change in response to the changing climate, marine calcifiers face the biochemical and physiological challenge of maintaining calcium carbonate shell structure in a more acidic environment. A key component to understanding organismal response to this multifactorial stressor is linking underlying genetic variation to phenotypic variation in stress response. Our current project aims to take advantage of the genomic gradient across the blue mussel hybrid zone (Mytilus edulis and Mytilus trossulus) in the Gulf of Maine to link genetic variation with variance in calcification rates in response to lower pH, higher temperatures, and reduced food availability. We are employing the power of next generation DNA sequencing techniques to generate highly multilocus genotypes for population genomic analysis and genome-wide association survey.

During the launch of my Marine Molecular Ecology and Evolution course in the fall of 2014, my students and I investigated spatial and ecotype population structure in Littorina obtusata (a native periwinkle snail), also using next generation DNA sequencing and population genomic analyses.

Complete CV (PDFPDF)

Kingston S.E., Navarro-Sigüenza A.G., García-Trejo E.A., Vázquez H., Fagan W.F., Braun M.J. 2014. Genetic differentiation and habitat connectivity across towhee hybrid zones in Mexico. Evolutionary Ecology. 28(2): 277-297. 10.1007/s10682-013-9673-8.

Kingston S.E., Jernigan R.W., Fagan W.F., Braun D., Braun M.J. 2012. Genomic variation in cline shape across a hybrid zone. Ecology and Evolution 2 (11): 2737–2748. 10.1002/ece1003.1375.

Kingston S.E., Parchman T.P., Buerkle C. A., Gompert Z, Braun M.J. (in prep) Genome-wide analysis and comparison of two hybrid transects.

Kingston S.E., Adams L.D., Rosel P.E. 2009. Testing mitochondrial sequences and anonymous nuclear markers for phylogeny reconstruction in a rapidly radiating group: molecular systematics of the Delphininae (Cetacea: Odontoceti: Delphinidae). BMC Evolutionary Biology 9:245. *highly accessed*

Kingston S.E., Rosel P.E. 2004. Genetic differentiation among recently diverged Delphinid taxa determined using AFLP markers. Journal of Heredity 95: 1-10.

 different color morphs of the snail Littorina obtusata in rockweed   a blue mussel being dissected for a tissue sample in order to extract DNA
Different color morphs of the snail Littorina obtusata in rockweed (L)
A blue mussel being dissected for a tissue sample in order to extract DNA (R)

close up of several periwinkle snails, Littorina obtusata
Close up of several periwinkle snails, Littorina obtusata

a view from off the Maine coast off Mt Desert Island
A view of the Maine coast near Mt Desert Island

approaching Mount Desert Rock (25 miles out to sea)
Approaching Mount Desert Rock (25 miles out to sea)

blue mussels in intertidal habitat on Mt Desert Rock
Blue mussels in intertidal habitat on Mt Desert Rock

measuring salinity, pH, oxygen, and temperature in the waters of Mount Desert Rock
Measuring salinity, pH, oxygen, and temperature in the waters of Mount Desert Rock