Phoenix Group

Evolutionary Ecology & Genetics

Mathieu Quenu
I have a broad interest in applications of data sciences to biological systems. My past research and background is mostly focused on evolutionary biology and its different related fields: population genetics, phylogenies, quantitative genetics, community ecology, and biostatistics.
I completed my undergraduate and first postgraduate studies in the University of Lille, in France. During my masters degree I had the opportunity to work on different research projects, providing an opportunity for me to travel abroad and start doing some research-related work. My first research project dragged me to Scotland and the University of Stirling, where I studied polyploidy and speciation in the introduced plant genus Mimulus (monkeyflower). It was an interesting time for me and it confirmed by desire to pursue an academic career. Then in 2016 I firstly came to New Zealand for a second research project, where I met Mary and Steve for the first time. My work here concerned coevolution of feather lice living on the hybrid grey duck/mallards of New Zealand. One year later, I came back to New Zealand to complete a PhD program.

PhD research
My PhD project aims at looking at the relationship between the giant snail Placostylus and its environment, with the objective to provide a better understanding of the evolutionary ecology of this endangered taxon.

The first focus of my PhD work is to investigate the genetic and morphometric variation of Placostylus species in the Isle of Pines, New Caledonia. In this island populations are of interest because local inhabitants harvest snails for food. Understanding relations between morphology, genetics and environment can therefore reveal crucial information for population management practises.
Morphological results so far, which contained a combination of geometric morphometric, supervised and unsupervised learning, did not support the separation of Placostylus into two different groups (species), and highlights presence of intermediate morphological individuals.




Genetic data will be used to investigate the status of these intermediate individuals (hybrids? consequence of phenotypic plasticity?). Both mitochondrial and nuclear genetic diversity are being investigated, and should inform us about population structure on the island, and possible hybridisation between the two species.



The second part of the project involve gathering oxygen isotope data from Placostylus shells, with the objective to develop an environmental proxy that is useful for interpreting past and future climate change. For this part of the project we are going to use snail shells from different locations in New Caledonia and New Zealand, and look at stable isotopes variation in a section of the lips of the snail. We are trying to detect signatures of seasonal environmental variations in these isotope values.



Conference Presentations
Quenu M, Morgan-Richards M, Trewick S. (2017) Morphological and genetic variation of Placostylus population in New Caledonia. NZ Molecular Ecology conference.
Academic Publications
Bulgarella M, Quenu M, Shepherd LD, Morgan-Richards M. 2018 The ectoparasites of hybrid ducks in New Zealand (Mallard x Grey Duck). Parasites and Wildlife 7: 335–342.
Vallejo-Marin, M., M. Quenu, S. Richie, and S. Meeus. 2017. Partial inter-fertility between independently originated populations of the neo-allopolyploid Mimulus peregrinus. Plant Systematics and Evolution. 303(8): 1081-1092.


2016 Master degree in evolution biology and genetics, Universite de Lille 1
2014 Bachelor degree in biology and ecology, Universite de Lille 1