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R. John Nelson

Centre for Biomedical Research
University of Victoria,
PO Box 3020 STN CSC,
Victoria, B.C. V8W 3N5
Phone: 250-896-0128
Fax: 250-472-4075

Dr. John Nelsonis an independent investigator based in the Koop lab.

Research Interests

My research is centered around two areas, molecular population genetics, and artic biological oceanography with a focus on marine zooplankton. A major current activity is the study of zooplankton distribution and community composition in the Canada Basin and the North Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort seas. I am interested in applying new and old approaches to understanding ecosystem structure and function.


University of Victoria
  • Modern Biology (Biol 150A)
  • Introductory Biochemistry (Bioc 200)
  • Conservation Biology (Biology 370)
  • Molecular Evolution (Biology 435)
Bamfield Marine Station
  • Conservation Genetics
  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution in the Intertidal
Pontifical Catholic University of Goias (Brazil)
  • Conservation Genetics


50. P. Wassmann, K. N. Kosobokova, D. Slagstad, K. F. Drinkwater, R. R. Hopcroft, S. E. Moore, I. Ellingsen, R. J. Nelson, E. Popova, J. Berge, E. Carmack The contiguous domains of Arctic Ocean advection: trails of life and death (in review).

49. Nelson RJ, Ashjian C, Bluhm B, Conlan K, Gradinger R, Grebmeier J, Hill V, Hopcroft R, Hunt B, Joo H, Kirchman D, Kosobokova K, Lee S, Li WKW, Lovejoy C, Poulin M, Sherr E, Young K (2014) Biodiversity and biogeography of the lower trophic taxa of the Pacific Arctic Region – sensitivities to climate change. In: Grebmeier JM, Maslowski W (eds) The Pacific Arctic Region: ecosystem status and trends in a rapidly changing environment. Springer, Dordrecht, p 269-336

48. B. Hunt, R. J. Nelson, W. J. Williams, E. C. Carmack, F. A. McLaughlin, K. Young. Interannual variation in mesozooplankton community composition in Canada Basin (2004 to 2009): increased importance of allochthonous zooplankton biomass. (in press).

47. C. Pomerleau, R. J. Nelson, B. P.V. Hunt, A. Sastri, W. J. Williams. (2014) Spatial patterns in zooplankton communities and stable isotope ratios (δ13C and δ15N) in relation to oceanographic conditions in the sub-Arctic Pacific and Western Arctic regions during the summer of 2008. J Plankton Res doi: 10.1093/plankt/fbt129

46. W. K. W. Li, E. C. Carmack, F. A. McLaughlin, R. J. Nelson, and W. J. Williams. (2013). Space-for-time substitution in predicting the state of picoplankton and nanoplankton in a changing Arctic Ocean. JGR 118:1-10.

45. K. L. Nash , C. R. Allen, D. G. Angeler, C. Barichievy, T. Eason, A. S. Garmestani, N. A. J. Graham, D. Granholm, M. G. Knutson, R. J. Nelson, M. Nyström, C. A. Stow, and S. M. Sundstrom (2013). Discontinuities, cross-scale patterns and the organization of ecosystems. Ecology doi: 10.1890/13-1315.1

44. C. Bouchard, D. Robert, R. J. Nelson, L. Fortier (2013). The nucleus of the lapillar otolith discriminates the early life stages of Boreogadus saida and Arctogadus glacialis. Polar Biology doi: 10.1007_s00300-013-1371-z

43. R. J. Nelson, C. Bouchard, M. Madsen, K. Praebel, E. Rondeau, K. von Schalburg, J. S. Leong, S. Jantzen, Z. Sandwith, S. Puckett, A. Messmer, S-E. Fevolden, B. F. Koop (2012). Microsatellite loci for genetic analysis of the arctic gadids Boreogadus saida and Arctogadus glacialis. Conservation Genetics Resources doi: 10.1007/s12686-012-9824-1

42. R. J. Nelson and D. S. O. McAdam (2012). Historical population structure of White Sturgeon in the Upper Columbia River detected with combined analysis of capture, telemetry and genetics. J. Applied Ichthyology 28: 161-167

41. A. Sastri, R. J. Nelson, D. E. Varela, K. V. Young, I. Wrohan, W. J. Williams (2012). Variation of chitobiase-based estimates of crustacean zooplankton production rates in high latitude waters. J. Exp. Mar. Bio. Ecol. 414: 54-61

40. J-É. Tremblay. D. Robert, D. E. Varela, C. Lovejoy, G. Darnis, R. J. Nelson, A. R. Sastri (2012). Current state and changing trends in Canadian arctic marine ecosystems: I. Primary Production. Climatic Change doi: 10.1007/s10584-012-0496-3

39. G. Darnis, D. Robert, C. Pomerleau, H. Link, P. Archambault, R. J. Nelson, M. Geoffroy, J-É. Tremblay, C. Lovejoy, S. H. Ferguson, B. Hunt, L. Fortier (2012). Current state and changing trends in Canadian Arctic marine ecosystems: II. Secondary production, pelagic-benthic coupling, and biodiversity. Climatic Change doi: 10.1007/s10584-012-0483-8

38. A. Messmer, D. Sanderson, R. J. Nelson, B. F. Koop (2011). Characterization of 13 microsatellite loci from Sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria (Pallas). Molecular Ecology Resources. 211: 219-22

37. C. Pomerleau G. Winkler, A. Sastri, R. J. Nelson, S. Vagle, V. Lesage, and S. H. Ferguson (2011). Spatial Patterns in Zooplankton Communities across the Eastern Canadian Subarctic and Arctic Waters: Insights from Stable Carbon (δ13C) and Nitrogen (δ15N) Isotope Ratios. J.Plankton Res. 33:1779-1792.

36. L. Godbout, C. Wood, R. Withler. S. Latham, R. J. Nelson, L. Wetzel (2011). Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) return after an absence of nearly 90 years: a case of reverse evolution. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 68: 1590-1602

35. G. A. Rose, R. J. Nelson, L. Mello (2011). On the origin of fish stocks: an example of the Smith Sound cod, CJFAS 68: 152–169.

34. P. Archambault, R. J., Nelson and 15 co-authors (2010). Sea to Sea: Canada’s Three Ocean’s of Biodiversity PLoS ONE doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012182

33. B. Hunt, J. Strugnell, N. Bednarsek, K. Linse, R. J. Nelson, E. Pakhomov, B. Seibel, D. Steinke, L.Würzberg (2010). Poles Apart: The Bipolar Pteropod Species Limacina helicina is Genetically Distinct Between the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans PLoS ONE doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009835

32. R. J. Nelson, E. C. Carmack, F. A. McLaughlin, G. A. Cooper. (2009). Penetration of Pacific zooplankton in the Arctic Ocean tracked with molecular population genetics MEPS 138: 129-138

31. A. D. da Cruz, D. M. Silva, Cláudio C. da Silva, R. J. Nelson, L. M. Ribeiro, E. R. Pedrosa, J. C. Jayme, M. P. Curado (2008). Microsatelite mutations in the offspring of irradiated parents nineteen years after the Cesium-137 accident in Goiania, Brazil. . Mutation Research-Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis 652: 175-179

30. T. Reimchen, R. J. Nelson, and C. Smith (2008). Estimating deer colonization rates to offshore islands of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, using microsatellite DNA markers (2007). Special publication Canadian Wildlife Service CW69-20/1-2007E:117-120.

29. C. C. Wood, J. W. Bickham, R. J. Nelson, C. J. Foote, and J. C. Patton (2008). Recurrent evolution of life history ecotypes in sockeye salmon: implications for conservation and future evolution. Evolutionary applications 1:207-221

28. R. Hopcroft, C. Clarke, R. J. Nelson, K. Raskoff (2005). Zooplankton Communities of the Arctic’s Canada Basin: the contribution of smaller taxa. Polar Biology 28: 198-206.

27. M. Cronin, R. Shideler, L. Waits, R. J. Nelson (2005). Genetic variation and relatedness in grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) in the Prudhoe Bay region and adjacent areas in northern Alaska. Ursus 16: 70-84.

26. R. J. Nelson, M. Stoehr, G. Cooper, C. Smith, H. Mehl (2003). High levels of chloroplast genetic variation differentiate coastal and interior Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) lineages in southern British Columbia. Forest Genetics 10: 153-157.

25. R. J. Nelson, C. Wood, G. Cooper, C. Smith and B. Koop (2003). Population structure of sockeye salmon of the central coast of British Columbia: Implications for recovery planning. NAJFM 23: 703-720.

24. T. Beacham, J. Candy, J. Supernault, M. Wetklo, B. Deagle, K. Labaree, J. Irvine, K. Miller, R. J Nelson, R. Withler (2003). Evaluation and application of microsatellites for population identification of Fraser River chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Fishery Bulletin 101: 243-259.

23. T. Beacham, K. J. Supernault, M. Wetklo, B. Deagle, L. Labaree, J. Irvine, J. Candy, K. Miller, R. J Nelson, R. Withler (2003). The geographic basis for population structure in Fraser River chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha. Fishery Bulletin 101: 229-242.

22. R. J. Nelson (2003). Genetics, R. Robinson ed. Macmillan Reference USA, New York. vol. 1, pp. 45-163.

21. R. J. Nelson, G. Cooper, T. Garner and P. Schnupf (2002). Polymorphic markers for the sea cucumber Parastichopus californicus. Molecular Ecology Notes 2: 233-235.

20. C. Smith, R. J. Nelson, S. Pollard, E. Rubidge, S. McKay, J. Rodzen, B. May, B. Koop (2002). Population genetic analysis of white sturgeon. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 18: 307-312.

19. T. Garner, P. Gregory, G. McCracken, G. Burghardt, B. Koop, S. Houts and R. J. Nelson (2002). Geographic variation of multiple paternity in the common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis). Copeia 1: 15-23.

18. C. Smith, R. J. Nelson, C. Wood and B. Koop (2001). Glacial biogeography of North American coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). Molecular Ecology 10: 2775-2785.

17. R. J. Nelson, M. Small, T. Beacham, and K. Supernault (2001). Use of microsatellite DNA markers to determine population substructure of populations of chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) within the Fraser River watershed, British Columbia, Canada. Fishery Bulletin 99: 94-107.

16. R. Withler, K. Le, R. J. Nelson, K. Miller, and T. Beacham (2000). Intact genetic structure and high levels of genetic diversity in bottlenecked sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka, populations of the Fraser River, British Columbia, Canada. CJFAS 57: 1985-1998.

15. R. J. Nelson and T. Beacham (1999). Isolation and cross species amplification of microsatellite loci useful for study of Pacific salmon. Animal Genetics 33: 228-229

14. S. M. McKinnell, C. C. Wood, M. F. Lapointe, J. C. Woodey, K. E. Kostow, R. J. Nelson, and K. D. Hyatt. (1999). Reviewing the evidence that adult sockeye salmon strayed from the Fraser River and spawned in other rivers in 1997. PICES Scient. Rep. 10, pp. 73-75

13. C. Smith, B. Koop, and R. J. Nelson (1998). Isolation and characterization of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) microsatellites and their use in other salmonids. Molecular Ecology 7: 1614-1615.

12. R. J. Nelson, T. Beacham and M. Small (1998). Microsatellite analysis of the population structure of a Vancouver Island sockeye salmon ( Oncorhynchus nerka) stock complex using non-denaturing gel electrophoresis. Molecular Marine Biology and Biotechnology 7: 312-319.

11. T. Beacham, L. Margolis, and R. J. Nelson (1998). A comparison of methods of population identification for sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in Barkley Sound British Columbia. North Pacific Anadromous Fishery Committee Bulletin 1: 227-239.

10. M. Small, T. Beacham, R. Withler and R. J. Nelson (1998). Discrimination of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) populations within the Fraser River, British Columbia using microsatellite DNA markers. Molecular Ecology 7: 141-155.

9. A. Honlinger, P. Keil, R. J. Nelson, E. Craig and N. Pfanner (1995). Posttranslational mitochondrial import in a homologous yeast in vitro system. Biological Chemistry Hoppe-Seyler 376: 515-519.

8. E. Craig, T. Zieglehoffer, R. J. Nelson, S. Laloraya, J. Halladay (1995). Diverse functions of the yeast Hsp70 multigene family. Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology LX: 441-449.

7. R. J. Nelson and E. Craig (1994). The SSA family of yeast hsp70. In: Guidebook to the Secretory Pathway, J. Rothblatt, P. Novick and T. Stevens, eds. Oxford University Press, New York

6. E. Craig, D. Gambill, and R. J. Nelson (1993). Heat shock proteins: molecular chaperones of protein biogenesis. Microbiological Reviews 57: 402-414.

5. R. J. Nelson, M. Heschel, and E. Craig (1992). Isolation and characterization of extragenic suppressors of mutations in the SSA hsp70 genes of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Genetics 131: 277-285.

4. R. J. Nelson, T. Zieglehoffer, C. Nicolet, M. Werner-Washburne and E. Craig (1992). The translation machinery and 70 kd heatshock protein cooperate in protein synthesis. Cell 71: 97-105.

3. R. J. Nelson and E. Craig (1992). TCP1, a new molecular chaperone. Current Biology 2: 487-489.

2. N. Andersen, H. Eaton, K. Nguyen, C. Hartzell, R. J. Nelson and J. Priest (1988). 2D NMR studies of aminoglycoside antibiotics. Use of relayed coherence transfer for 1H resonance assignment and in situ structure elucidation of amikacin derivatives in reaction mixtures. Biochemistry 27: 2782-2790. J.

1. J. Priest, S. Murray, R. J. Nelson and A. Hoffman (1987). Lower critical solution temperatures of aqueous co-polymers of N-isopropyl acrylamide and other N-substituted acrylamides. In: Reversible Polymeric Gels and Related Systems, Chemical Society Symposium Series 350: 255-264, doi 10.1021/bk-1987-0350.ch018