On Monday, Oliver Franklin successfully defended his PhD thesis, titled "Phenotypic selection of morphology in polymorphic Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus)". His research has been a collaboration between University of Guelph, Canada, and Hólar University College. Oliver's defence took place in Guelph, involving Dr. Moira Ferguson (Oliver's advisor at University of Guelph), Dr. Fanie Pelletier (external examiner from Universite de Sherbrooke, Canada), Dr. Cortland Griswold (Guelph) and Dr. Beren Robinson (Guelph). Oliver's advisor at Hólar is Skúli Skúlason.
Oliver's research advances our understanding of adaptive diversification through his exploration of natural selection in the polymorphic Arctic charr systems of Þingvallavatn and Vatnshlíðarvatn, and his contributions to the tools that scientists use to measure evolution. Polymorphic Arctic charr systems often exhibit variation in shape and ecology that correspond to expectations that shape is adapted to alternative diets between morphs. Such adaptation is expected to contribute to maintenance of polymorphism through diversifying natural selection. Oliver identified diversifying selection in Þingvallavatn, and revealed a complex of ecological factors driving selection including parasitism, contrasting patterns of size-dependent mortality, and non-trophic effects of shape. His observations in both lakes suggest that known differences in foraging performance between morphs have limited impacts on fitness in the wild under contemporary conditions.
Oliver is a member of Hólar's continuing collaboration with University of Guelph and he feels that this collaboration has been central to his development as a scientist. He has emphasised the importance of interacting with a broad range of knowledgeable researchers, and of experiencing field sites as much as possible.
November 2nd 2017, Skúli Skúlason.