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Professor Hamish Spencer

Department of Zoology
Director of the Allan Wilson Centre

Professor Hamish SpencerHamish is an evolutionary geneticist, whose research ranges from mathematical population genetics to the use evolutionary trees in understanding biodiversity, as well as the history of the eugenics movement.

He has a wide range of research interests, having recently published on topics as diverse as the laws and attitudes surrounding first-cousin marriage and the developmental origins of human health and disease to mathematical models of frequency-dependent selection and the phylogenetic placement of the Galápagos Cormorant.

Much of his work involves mathematical modeling of genetic changes that occur in human, animal and plant populations.

Professor Spencer is best known for his work on an unusual aspect of mammalian genetics known as genomic imprinting, in which the expression of a gene in an individual differs according to whether it was passed on from the mother or the father.

Using the tools of molecular genetics, he has also worked on the evolutionary trees of birds, snails and flat-worms, which show how the different species are related to each other.

Professor Spencer is a principal investigator in 2 of the government-funded Centres of Research Excellence: the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution; and the National Research Centre for Growth and Development. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and holds an appointment as an Honorary Research Fellow at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland.

Hamish Spencer's profile on the Department of Zoology website

Teaching

Hamish teaches in GENE 312 Evolutionary Genetics, GENE 360 Special Topics in Genetics and GENE 412 Current Topics in Genetics.

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Publications

Spencer, H. G., & Priest, N. K. (2016). The evolution of sex-specific dominance in response to sexually antagonistic selection. American Naturalist, 187(5), 658-666. doi: 10.1086/685827

Spencer, H. G., & Zuk, M. (2016). For host's sake: The pluses of parasite preservation [Forum]. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 31(5), 341-343. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2016.02.021

Paul, D. B., & Spencer, H. G. (2016). Eugenics without eugenists? Anglo-American critiques of cousin marriages in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In S. Müller-Wille & C. Brandt (Eds.), Heredity explored: Between public domain and experimental science, 1850-1930. (pp. 49-79). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Donald, K. M., Winter, D. J., Ashcroft, A. L., & Spencer, H. G. (2015). Phylogeography of the whelk genus Cominella (Gastropoda: Buccinidae) suggests long-distance counter-current dispersal of a direct developer. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 115(2), 315-332. doi: 10.1111/bij.12529

Geoghegan, J. L., & Spencer, H. G. (2013). Exploring epiallele stability in a population-epigenetic model. Theoretical Population Biology, 83, 136-144. doi: 10.1016/j.tpb.2012.09.001

Chapter in Book - Research

Paul, D. B., & Spencer, H. G. (2016). Eugenics without eugenists? Anglo-American critiques of cousin marriages in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In S. Müller-Wille & C. Brandt (Eds.), Heredity explored: Between public domain and experimental science, 1850-1930. (pp. 49-79). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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Journal - Research Article

Spencer, H. G., & Priest, N. K. (2016). The evolution of sex-specific dominance in response to sexually antagonistic selection. American Naturalist, 187(5), 658-666. doi: 10.1086/685827

Donald, K. M., & Spencer, H. G. (2016). Phylogeographic patterns in New Zealand and temperate Australian cantharidines (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Trochidae: Cantharidinae): Trans-Tasman divergences are ancient. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution, 100, 333-344. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2016.04.029

Spencer, H. G., & Chiew, K. X. (2015). The maintenance of single-locus polymorphism by maternal selection. Genes Genomes Genetics, 5, 963-969. doi: 10.1534/g3.115.017392

Donald, K. M., Winter, D. J., Ashcroft, A. L., & Spencer, H. G. (2015). Phylogeography of the whelk genus Cominella (Gastropoda: Buccinidae) suggests long-distance counter-current dispersal of a direct developer. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 115(2), 315-332. doi: 10.1111/bij.12529

Kennedy, M., & Spencer, H. G. (2014). Classification of the cormorants of the world. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution, 79, 249-257. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2014.06.020

Spencer, H. G., & Clark, A. G. (2014). Non-conflict theories for the evolution of genomic imprinting. Heredity, 113, 112-118. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2013.129

Cumming, R. A., Nikula, R., Spencer, H. G., & Waters, J. M. (2014). Transoceanic genetic similarities of kelp-associated sea slug populations: Long-distance dispersal via rafting? Journal of Biogeography, 41, 2357-2370. doi: 10.1111/jbi.12376

Herman, J. J., Spencer, H. G., Donohue, K., & Sultan, S. E. (2014). How stable 'should' epigenetic modifications be? Insights from adaptive plasticity and bet hedging. Evolution, 68(3), 632-643. doi: 10.1111/evo.12324

Kennedy, M., Taylor, S. A., Nádvorník, P., & Spencer, H. G. (2013). The phylogenetic relationships of the extant pelicans inferred from DNA sequence data. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution, 66(1), 215-222. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2012.09.034

Star, B., & Spencer, H. G. (2013). Effects of genetic drift and gene flow on the selective maintenance of genetic variation. Genetics, 194, 235-244. doi: 10.1534/genetics.113.149781

Trotter, M. V., & Spencer, H. G. (2013). Models of frequency-dependent selection with mutation from parental alleles. Genetics, 195(1), 231-242. doi: 10.1534/genetics.113.152496

Geoghegan, J. L., & Spencer, H. G. (2013). The adaptive invasion of epialleles in a heterogeneous environment. Theoretical Population Biology, 88, 1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tpb.2013.05.001

Geoghegan, J. L., & Spencer, H. G. (2013). Exploring epiallele stability in a population-epigenetic model. Theoretical Population Biology, 83, 136-144. doi: 10.1016/j.tpb.2012.09.001

Geoghegan, J. L., & Spencer, H. G. (2013). The evolutionary potential of paramutation: A population-epigenetic model. Theoretical Population Biology, 88, 9-19. doi: 10.1016/j.tpb.2013.05.003

Paul, D. B., Stenhouse, J., & Spencer, H. G. (2013). The two faces of Robert FitzRoy, captain of HMS Beagle and governor of New Zealand. Quarterly Review of Biology, 88(3), 219-225. doi: 10.1086/671485

Nikula, R., Spencer, H. G., & Waters, J. M. (2013). Passive rafting is a powerful driver of transoceanic gene flow. Biology Letters, 9(1), 20120821. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.0821

Waters, J. M., Trewick, S. A., Paterson, A. M., Spencer, H. G., Kennedy, M., Craw, D., Burridge, C. P., & Wallis, G. P. (2013). Biogeography off the tracks. Systematic Biology, 62(3), 494-498. doi: 10.1093/sysbio/syt013

Marshall, B. A., & Spencer, H. G. (2013). Comments on some taxonomic changes affecting marine Bivalvia of the New Zealand region recently introduced in Huber's Compendium of bivalves, with some additional taxonomic changes. Molluscan Research, 33(1), 40-49. doi: 10.1080/13235818.2012.754147

Santure, A. W., & Spencer, H. G. (2012). Genomic imprinting leads to less selectively maintained polymorphism on X chromosomes. Genetics, 192, 1455-1464. doi: 10.1534/genetics.112.145607

Geoghegan, J. L., & Spencer, H. G. (2012). Population-epigenetic models of selection. Theoretical Population Biology, 81(3), 232-242. doi: 10.1016/j.tpb.2011.08.001

Donald, K. M., Preston, J., Williams, S. T., Reid, D. G., Winter, D., Alvarez, R., … Spencer, H. G. (2012). Phylogenetic relationships elucidate colonization patterns in the intertidal grazers Osilinus Philippi, 1847 and Phorcus Risso, 1826 (Gastropoda: Trochidae) in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution, 62(1), 35-45. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2011.09.002

Nakagawa, S., Lagisz, M., Hector, K. L., & Spencer, H. G. (2012). Comparative and meta-analytic insights into life extension via dietary restriction. Aging Cell, 11(3), 401-409. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2012.00798.x

Nikula, R., Spencer, H. G., & Waters, J. M. (2011). Evolutionary consequences of microhabitat: Population-genetic structuring in kelp- vs. rock-associated chitons. Molecular Ecology, 20, 4915-4924. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05332.x

Nikula, R., Fraser, C. I., Spencer, H. G., & Waters, J. M. (2010). Circumpolar dispersal by rafting in two subantarctic kelp-dwelling crustaceans. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 405, 221-230. doi: 10.3354/meps08523

Holland, B. R., Spencer, H. G., Worthy, T. H., & Kennedy, M. (2010). Identifying cliques of convergent characters: Concerted evolution in the cormorants and shags. Systematic Biology, 59(4), 433-445. doi: 10.1093/sysbio/syq023

Williams, S. T., Donald, K. M., Spencer, H. G., & Nakano, T. (2010). Molecular systematics of the marine gastropod families Trochidae and Calliostomatidae (Mollusca: Superfamily Trochoidea). Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution, 54(3), 783-809. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2009.11.008

Fraser, C. I., Thiel, M., Spencer, H. G., & Waters, J. M. (2010). Contemporary habitat discontinuity and historic glacial ice drive genetic divergence in Chilean kelp. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 10, 203. doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-10-203

Fraser, C. I., Spencer, H. G., & Waters, J. M. (2009). Glacial oceanographic contrasts explain phylogeography of Australian bull kelp. Molecular Ecology, 18(10), 2287-2296. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04201.x

Kennedy, M., Valle, C. A., & Spencer, H. G. (2009). The phylogenetic position of the Galápagos Cormorant. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution, 53(1), 94-98. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2009.06.002

Fraser, C. I., Nikula, R., Spencer, H. G., & Waters, J. M. (2009). Kelp genes reveal effects of subantarctic sea ice during the Last Glacial Maximum. PNAS, 106(9), 3249-3253.

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Journal - Research Other

Spencer, H. G., & Zuk, M. (2016). For host's sake: The pluses of parasite preservation [Forum]. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 31(5), 341-343. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2016.02.021

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