School of Life Sciences
  • Print

Image of Daniele D'Agostino

Daniele D'Agostino

PhD candidate, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences



Jan 2016 - present: PhD candidate, Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship for Research Excellence (EU). School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham, U.K.

Jan 2013 - Dec 2015: Research Technician. The University of Nottingham, School of Life Sciences. University Park, Nottingham, UK.

July 2012: MSci (two-years) Marine Biology. Università Politecnica delle Marche, Italy. Mark 110/110 cum laude (1st class, Honors)..

Jan 2011: LLP Erasmus Placement, Internship in Marine Biology & Aqualculture at National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES). Bergen, Norway.

July 2009: BSc Ecology (Biology). Università degli studi di Roma "Tor Vergata", Italy. Mark 110/110 cum laude (1st class, Honors).

Research Summary

Coping with extreme environments: reef fishes within the world's warmest sea

This research theme is part of a multi-institute and multi-national collaboration involving partners from The University of Nottingham, New York University (Abu Dhabi), James Cook University (Australia), Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Saudi Arabia) focusing on understanding how marine communities have adapted to extreme environments (focusing predominantly on the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea and Singaporean waters of the Indo-Pacific), and whether such adaptation will provide resilience to future warming events.

In this project I am collaborating with Dr David Feary, Dr Ben Chapman at the University of Nottingham, we are investigating the phenotypic and population genetic mechanisms that underlie the persistence of marine species within the Arabian Gulf's extreme environment.

The Arabian Gulf coastal sea has communities that persist, despite experiencing seasonal water temperatures several degrees above the mortality thresholds of Indo-Pacific reefs. This system is characterized by a thermal regime comparable to that predicted for the tropical ocean by 2090-2099 and therefore may serve as a useful proxy for the implications of a rapidly changing global temperature regime, while giving insights into how species may cope with future scenarios of increased climate warming and variability.

To understand how Gulf biodiversity persists I am focusing on two primary question:

1. What are the mechanisms (behavioural, life-history, and physiological) by which Gulf fish mitigate the effects of extremes in temperature?

2. What are the life-history differences (growth rate, reproduction) between Gulf and Western Indian Ocean fishes? And how do environmental stressors shape fish's growth rate?

3. How genetically connected are Gulf, Western Indian Ocean and Red Sea populations?

Publications in press/close to submission:

D'Agostino D., Chapman B., Burt J., Reader T., Santinelli V., Cavalcante G. and Feary D. "Coping with extreme environments: the influence of thermal variation on fish behavioural ecology", in preparation to submit to Coral Reef.

Griffiths G., Wade C., D'Agostino D., Burt J. and Feary D. "Population connectivity within an extreme environment", in preparation to submit to Heredity.

Feary D., Hoey A., Taylor B., D'Agostino D., Vaughan G., Grandcourt E., Pratchett M., Bauman A., Cavalcante G. and Burt J. "The life history impacts of living within the world's warmest sea. In preparation to submit to Journal of Animal Ecology.

Recent Publications

Past Research

Multivariate evolution in replicated adaptive radiations in three-spine sticklebacks: pattern, process and the role of the environment.

Using the three-spined Stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) as a model system, this study aim to understand the ecological drivers of adaptation and speciation in recent adaptive radiation, through the analysis of genetic and phenotypic divergence of four independent radiation of sticklebacks in Scotland, Iceland, Canada and Alaska (click here for the Gallery).

For each of these independent radiations we want to:

(i) Find the ecological axes of phenotypic divergence analysing the environment-phenotype association.

(ii) Use combination of advanced genomic and eco-morphological techniques to quantify the genetic and phenotypic diversity contained within and between populations.

(iii) Understand the relationships between plastic and heritable components of phenotypic divergence through the analyses of variance / covariance in both wild and lab-bred populations.

The combination of these analyses will lead to a better understanding of the environmental and genetic constraints that contribute to the phenotypic diversity observed in each one of these systems. The comparison of several independent systems will then help us find general patterns and factors responsible for replicated cases of evolution, while at the same time identify what makes each of these systems unique.

For further information contact Professor Andrew MacColl or Isabel Santos Magalhaes.

Part of this work has led to the publication: 2016 - Magalhaes I. S., D'Agostino D., Hohenlohe P., MacColl A. The ecology of an adaptive radiation of three-spined sticklebacks from North Uist, Scotland. Molecular Ecology 25(17), 4319-4336, 2016/9/1 (Impact Factor: 6).

Publications in press/close to submission:

Magalhaes I.S.*, Whiting J.*, D'Agostino D., Hohenlohe P. and MacColl A. "Repeated patterns of local adaptation across adaptive radiations of three-spined stickleback", in preparation to submit to Nature (*joint first authors)

Whiting J.; Magalhaes I.S.; Robertson S.; D'Agostino D.; Bradley J.; MacColl A. "A genetics-based approach confirms immune associations with life history across multiple populations of an aquatic vertebrate (Gasterosteus aculeatus)", submitted to Molecular Ecology.

Magalhaes I.S., D'Agostino D., Hohenlohe P. and MacColl A. "Ancestral variation does not explain phenotypic and genomic variation in freshwater three-spined stickleback" in preparation to submit to Molecular Biology and Evolution.

Future Research

Red Sea fishes in the Mediterranean: novice invaders or hardened competitors?

In collaboration with Dr David Feary.

Mediterranean Sea biodiversity is showing unprecedented shifts, predominantly associated with warming of coastal waters, which is not only significantly reducing climatically suitable habitat for endemic fish species, but is facilitating one of the most globally rapid shifts in species diversity. At present, almost 90 Indo- Pacific fishes have entered the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal. Although once confined to Levantine waters, this mass invasion is now accelerating in its rate and magnitude associated with a rapidly warming basin. Such input of new invasive species, and its potential impact on the Mediterranean Sea biodiversity is now expected to dramatically increase with the massive expansion of the Suez Canal; the canal is now the largest man-made corridor between geologically separate marine ecosystems. Despite such substantial changes within the Mediterranean Sea, we still lack comprehensive and testable models to determine and predict the factors that may constrain or facilitate such tropical invasion within this region. This work aims to provide such models by utilizing regional ecological and environmental datasets and in situ biological and ecological experimental surveys, and determine the role of species-specific population supply, ecological interactions between resident and invasive communities, resource use and metabolic capacity in structuring the ecological success of invaders amid rapidly increasing coastal temperatures. Understanding the bio-ecological factors which may enhance or constrain invasion success amid regional increases in water temperature and invasive supply will be vital in predicting the future sustainability of this globally important economic resource

School of Life Sciences

University of Nottingham
Medical School
Queen's Medical Centre
Nottingham NG7 2UH

Contact us