Sarah Kingston

Research Associate in Biology

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.

In the context of my Marine Molecular Ecology and Evolution course, students and I investigate the spatial and ecotype population structure in native Littorine snails (Littorina obtusata and L. saxatilis) in the Gulf of Maine, also using next generation DNA sequencing and population genomic analyses.

Close up of several periwinkle snails, Littorina obtusata A view of the Maine coast near Mt Desert Island
Approaching Mount Desert Rock (25 miles out to sea) Blue mussels in intertidal habitat on Mt Desert Rock
Measuring salinity, pH, oxygen, and temperature in the waters of Mount Desert Rock Different color morphs of the snail Littorina obtusata in rockweed.jpg

Curriculum Vitae

The Kingston Lab

Sarah Kingston