Gary Saunders




Bailey Hall 271

1 506 453 4841

Academic interests

  • Systematics and phylogenetics
  • Biodiversity and biogeography
  • Kelp ecology and distribution in a changing climate

Brief biography

I have long been fascinated by the marine algae. Growing as a teen on the South Shore of Nova Scotia my life revolved and evolved around the ocean. I have been fortunate to take that love of the marine world and turn it into an exciting and prosperous career as a marine biologist at UNBF. I am interested in many aspects of algal evolution and distribution.

In my lab the fields of traditional and molecular systematics are merged to give a more comprehensive picture of algal evolution. My main groups of interest at present are the Rhodoplantae (red algae) and Phaeophyceae (brown algae). A major international project currently ongoing with regards to our systematics research is as a partner in the Tree of Life RedToL project ( redtol/home).

In addition to the systematics of marine plants, I have strong interests in the biodiversity, biogeography and ecology of marine algae especially concerning distributional changes in the face of climate change. A key focus concerns trans-Arctic migrations in Canada of Pacific species into the North Atlantic, and in the identification of cryptic introductions (overlooked because of their morphological similarity to native species).

Courses taught

  • BIOL4211 Marine Research Experience
  • BIOL4221 Diversity, Evolution & Ecology of Marine Plants

Selected research

Bringloe, T.T. & Saunders, G.W. 2019. Trans-Arctic speciation of Florideophyceae (Rhodophyta) since the opening of the Bering Strait, with consideration of the “species pump” hypothesis. J. Biogeogr. 46(4): 694-705.

Bringloe, T.T. & Saunders, G.W. 2018. Mitochondrial DNA sequence data reveal the origins of postglacial marine macroalgal flora in the Northwest Atlantic. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 589: 45-58.

Saunders, G.W., Wadland, K.L. Salomaki, E.D. & Lane, C.E. 2017. A contaminant DNA barcode sequence reveals a new red algal order, Corynodactylales (Nemaliophycidae, Florideophyceae). Botany 95: 561-566 (Editor’s Choice).

Jackson, C., Salomaki, E.D., Lane, C.E. & Saunders, G.W. 2017. Kelp transcriptomes provide robust support for interfamilial relationships and revision of the little known Arthrothamnaceae (Laminariales). J. Phycol. 53(1): 1-6.

Saunders, G.W. 2014. Long distance kelp rafting impacts seaweed biogeography in the Northeast Pacific: the kelp conveyor hypothesis. J. Phycol. 50: 968-974.