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Nicole Phillips

Dr. Nicole Phillips

Associate Professor


My research uses molecular approaches to answer questions that are relevant to the conservation and management of threatened, protected, or exploited marine species. I am interested in the genetic composition of populations over space and time, with research into temporal changes in genetic diversity, population structure, demographic history, and the impact of landscape features on marine populations. While many of the projects in my lab focus on sharks and rays, we work broadly on aquatic taxa, including marine and freshwater bony fishes, turtles, amphibians, and marine mammals. Current research includes conservation genetics of sawfishes, population structure of cownose rays, and using environmental DNA approaches to study the contemporary ranges, abundances, and habitat use of a variety of aquatic species.

  • PHD - Murdoch University (2012)
  • BS - Murdoch University (2006)

BSC 345/L Marine Biology
BSC 404/L Tropical Ecology in Belize
BSC 422, 522 Coastal and Marine Management
BSC 439/L, 539/L Marine Ecology

  • Historical specimens and photographs reveal temporal changes in U.S. Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata) maximum size and age class distribtuion over time , Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 2024,
  • Environmental DNA evidence of the Critically Endangered Smalltooth Sawfish, Pristis pectinata, in historically occupied habitats in United States waters, Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 2022,
  • Reviewing the genetic evidence for sex-biased dispersal in elasmobranchs, Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 2021,
  • Swimming against the flow – Environmental DNA can detect bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) across a dynamic deltaic interface, Ecology and Evolution, 2021,
  • Genetic evidence supports a range extension of the Brazilian Cownose Ray, Rhinoptera brasiliensis, in the western North Atlantic, Journal of Fish Biology, 2021,
  • Environmental DNA tool for monitoring the status of the Critically Endangered Smalltooth Sawfish, Pristis pectinata, in the Western Atlantic, Conservation Genetics Resources, 2020,
  • Development of highly sensitive environmental DNA methods for the detection of Bull Shark, Carcharhinus leucas (Müller and Henle, 1839), using Droplet Digital™ PCR, Environmental DNA, 2020,
  • Review of Current Conservation Genetic Analyses of Northeast Pacific Sharks, Northeast Pacific Shark Biology, Research and Conservation, Advances in Marine Biology, 2017, 10.1016/bs.amb.2017.06.005
  • Genetic bottlenecks in Pristis sawfishes in northern Australian waters, ENDANGERED SPECIES RESEARCH, 2017, 10.3354/esr00815
  • Contrasting population structures of three Pristis sawfishes with different patterns of habitat use, Marine and Freshwater Research, 2017
  • English (Native or Bilingual)

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Areas of Expertise

Conservation genetics, environmental DNA, historic DNA, sharks & rays