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Marine Mammalogist

                             matt.s.leslie@gmail.com    |    lesliem@si.edu   |    @okiewhaler

About Matt

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I am a Marine Mammalogist

Using emerging technology, natural history collections, field research, and genetics to describe marine mammal diversity for conservation management decisions. I also strive to inspire others to fall in love with Earth's wildlife and wild places through teaching and public education. Currently, I am the Secretary G. Wayne Clough Postdoctoral Research Fellow (through the Smithson fellows program) at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural history. In this position, I am investigating the evolutionary relationships of balaenopterid whales using skulls, DNA, and drones.
 

PUBLICATIONS

Papers In Review:

M. S. Leslie, F. I. Archer, P. A. Morin. Genetic inference of population structure in spinner (Stenella longirostris) and spotted dolphins (S. attenuata) from the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean based on mitochondrial genomes and nuclear SNPs. In Review – Marine Mammal Science.


Peer Review Papers:

21. H. C. ROSENBAUM, F. Kershaw, M. Mendez, C. Pomilla, M.S. Leslie, K. findlay, p. best, t. collins et al. First circumglobal assessment of southern hemisphere humpback whale mitochondrial genetic variation at multiple scales and implications for management. Accepted – Endangered species research - DIO: 10.3354/ESR00822 http://www.int-res.com/prepress/n00822.html

 

20. Rosel PE, Hancock-Hanser BL, Archer FI, Martien KK, Robertson KM, LESLIE MS et al. Examining metrics and magnitudes of molecular genetic differentiation used to delimit cetacean subspecies based on mitochondrial DNA control region sequences. Marine Mammal Science 33(S1):76-100. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12410. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.12410/full

 

19. P.E. ROSEL, B. L. TAYLOR, B. L. HANCOCK-HANSER, P. A. MORIN, F. I. ARCHER, A. KONOPACKI, A. R. LANG, S. L. MESNICK, V. L. PEASE, W. F. PERRIN, K. M. ROBERTSON, M. S. LESLIE  et al. A review of molecular genetic markers and analytical approaches that have been used for delimiting marine mammal subspecies and speciesMarine Mammal Science 33(S1):56-75. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12410 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.12412/full

 

18. K. K. MARTIEN, M. S. LESLIE, P. A. MORIN, F. I. ARCHER, B. L. HANCOCK-HANSER,  ROSEL P.E. et al. Analytical approaches to subspecies delimitation with genetic data. Marine Mammal Science 33(S1):27-55 DOI: 10.1111/mms.12409 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.12409/full

 

17. B. L. TAYLOR, B. L. HANCOCK-HANSER, K. K. MARTIEN, P. A. MORIN, F. I. ARCHER, A. R. LANG, M. S. LESLIE, S. L. MESNICK, V. L. PEASE, W. F. PERRIN, and K. M. ROBERTSON et al. Guidelines and quantitative standards to improve consistency in cetacean subspecies and species delimitation relying on molecular data. Marine Mammal Science 33(S1):132-155. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12411 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.12411/full

 

16. M. S. Leslie & P. A. Morin. Using genome-wide SNPs to detect structure in high-diversity and low-divergence populations of severely impacted eastern tropical Pacific spinner (Stenella longirostris) and pantropical spotted dolphins (S. attenuata).  Frontiers in Marine Science http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmars.2016.00253/full

 

15. C. Pomilla, A R. AMARAL, T. COLLINS, G. MINTON, K. FINDLAY, M. S. LESLIE, L. PONNAMPALAM, R. BALDWIN, H. C. ROSENBAUM. 2014. The world’s most isolated and distinct whale population: Humpback whales of the Arabian Sea. PloS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114162 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0114162

 

14. M. S. Leslie. 2014. The impact of phylogenetic nomenclature on the efficacy of the Endangered Species Act. Conservation Biology. 00:1-9. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12375 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12375/full

 

13. J. D. Jackson, J. STEELE, P. Beerli, B. C. Congdon, C. Olavarria, M. S. Leslie, C. Pomilla, H. C. Rosenbaum, C. S. BAKER, 2014. Global diversity and oceanic divergence of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B. 281:1786. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.3222 http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/281/1786/20133222.short

 

12. I. Carvalho, J. Ay Ling Loo, T. Collins, J. Barendse, C. Pomilla, M. S. Leslie, P. Best, H. Rosenbaum. 2014. Does temporal and spatial segregation explain the complex population structure of humpback whales on the coast of West Africa? Journal of Marine Biology. DOI:10.1007/s00227-013-2379-1 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00227-013-2379-1

 

11. F. Kershaw, M.S. Leslie, T. Collins, R. Mansur, M. Rubaiyat, B.D. Smith, G. Minton, R. Baldwin, ET AL. 2013. Population differentiation of 2 forms of Bryde’s whales in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Journal of Heredity. doi:10.1093/jhered/est057 https://academic.oup.com/jhered/article/104/6/755/798338/Population-Differentiation-of-2-Forms-of-Bryde-s

 

10. F. I. Archer, P. A. Morin, B. L. Hancock-Hanser, K. M. Robertson, M. S. Leslie, M. Berube, S. Panigada, B. L. Taylor. 2013. Mitogenomic phylogenetics of fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus spp.): genetic evidence for revision of subspecies. PLoS ONE 8(5): e63396. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063396 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0063396

 

9. B. Hancock-Hanser, A. Frey, M.S. Leslie, P. Dutton, F. Archer, P. Morin. 2013. Targeted multiplex next-generation sequencing: Advances in techniques of mitochondrial and nuclear sequencing for population genomics. Molecular Ecology Resources. 13(2):254-68. doi10.1111/1755-0998.12059 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/1755-0998.12059/full

 

8. P. J.  Ersts, C. Pomilla, J. Kiszka, S. Cerchio, H.C. Rosenbaum, M. Vely, Y. Razafindrakoto, J.A. Loo, M.S. Leslie, M. Avolio. 2011 Observations of individual humpback whales utilizing multiple migratory destinations in the south-western Indian Ocean. African Journal of Marine Science. 33(2): 333-338. doi: 10.2989/1814232X.2011.600436 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2989/1814232X.2011.600436

 

7. G. Minton, S. Cerchio, T. Collins, P. Ersts, K.P. Findlay, C. Pomilla, D. Bennet, M.A. Meyer, Y. Razafindrakoto, P.G.H. Kotze, W.H. Oosthuizen, M.S. Leslie, N. Andrianarivelo, R. Baldwin, L. Ponnampalam, and H.C. Rosenbaum. 2010. A note on the comparison of humpback whale tail fluke catalogues from the Sultanate of Oman with Madagascar and the East African mainland. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 11(1):65-68. https://arabianseawhalenetworkdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/minton-et-al-2010_jcrm111-pp065-068.pdf

 

6. H. C. Rosenbaum, C. Pomilla, M. Mendez, M.S. Leslie, P.B. Best, et al. 2009. Population structure of humpback whales from their breeding grounds in the south Atlantic and Indian Oceans. PLoS ONE 4(10): e7318. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0007318 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0007318

 

5. M. J. EATON, G. L. MEYERS, S. O. KOLOKOTRONIS, M. S. LESLIE, A. P. MARTIN, G. AMATO. 2009. Barcoding bushmeat: molecular forensic identification of Central African and South American harvested vertebrates. Conservation Genetics. DOI 10.1007/s10592-009-9967-0. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10592-009-9967-0

 

4. M. MENDEZ, M. S. LESLIE. 2009. Cetacean mitogenomics. MitoCommunications; Mitochondrial DNA; DOI: 10.1080/19401730902852976. http://www.martinmendez.org/Mendez%20et%20al%202009_Mitocom_mtDNA.pdf

 

3. M. H. Engel, N. J.R. Fagundes, H. C. Rosenbaum, M. S. Leslie, P. H. Ott, R. Schmitt, E. Secchi, L. Dalla Rosa, S. L. Bonatto. 2008. Mitochondrial DNA diversity and assessment of the likely feeding ground of the Southwestern Atlantic humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) breeding area. Conservation Genetics: 9(5):1253-1262. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10592-007-9453-5

 

2. M. KRETZMAN, L. MENTZER, R. DiGIOVANNI, M. S. LESLIE, G. AMATO. 2006. Microsatellite diversity and fitness in stranded harp seals (Phoca groenlandica). Journal of Heredity 97(6):555–560. https://doi.org/10.1093/jhered/esl043

 

1. M. S. LESLIE, A. BATIBASAGA, D. S. WEBER, D. OLSEN, AND H. C. ROSENBAUM. 2005. First record of Blainville's beaked whale Mesoplodon densirostris in Fiji. Pacific Conservation Biology 11(4):28-30. http://www.publish.csiro.au/PC/PC050302


Technical Papers:

I. Carvalho, J. C. Loo, T. Collins, C. Pomilla, J. Barendse, P. Best, R. Hersch, M. S. Leslie, M. Thornton, H. C. Rosenbaum. 2010. Temprotal Patterns of Popilation Structure of Humpback Whales on the West Coast of Africa (B Stock). SC/62/SH8. Report to the International Whaling Commission.

 

C. POMILLA, T. COLLINS, G. MINTON, K. P. FINDLAY, M. S. LESLIE, L. PONNAMPALAM, RBALDWIN, H. C. ROSENBAUM. 2010. Genetic Distinctiveness and Decline of a Small Population of Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaengliae) in the Arabia Sea (Region X).  SC/62/SH6. Report to the International Whaling Commission.

 

S. Cerchio, P. J. Ersts, C Pomilla, J Loo, Y Razafindrakoto, M S. Leslie, N. Andrianrivelo, G Mindon, J Dushane, A Murray, T Collins, H Rosenbaum. 2009.  Updated estimates of abundance for humpback whale breeding stock C3 off Madagascar, 2000–2006 SC/61/SH7. Report to the International Whaling Commission.

 

J. C. Loo, C. Pomilla, M. Mendez, M. S. Leslie, H. C. Rosenbaum. 2006. Assessment of genetic connectivity between breeding regions B and C and feeding areas I, II and III. SC/A06/HW. Report to the International Whaling Commission.

 

H. C. Rosenbaum, C. Pomilla, C. Olavarria, C. s. Baker, M. S. Leslie, et al. 2006. A first and preliminary analysis of mtDNA sequences from humpback whales from breeding stocks A-G and X. SC/A06/HW. SC/58/HW. Report to the International Whaling Commission.

 

H. C. ROSENBAUM, C. POMILLA, M. S. LESLIE, M. MENDEZ, P. B. BEST, T. COLLINS, M. H. ENGEL, P. J. ERSTS, K. P. FINDLAY, P. J. H. KOTZE, M. MEYER, G. MINTON, J. BARENDSE, K. VAN WAEREBEEK AND Y. RAZAFINDRAKOTO. 2006. Mitochondrial DNA Diversity and Population Structure of Humpback Whales from the Wintering Areas in the Indian and South Atlantic Oceans (Regions A, B, C and X). SC/58/SH13. Report to the International Whaling Commission.

NEWS

Come here to see news about Matt's expeditions, research, and teaching.


PUBLISHED: Special Issue of Marine Mammal Science on delimiting subspecies of cetaceans using primarily genetic data

Table of Contents Here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.2017.33.issue-S1/issuetoc

We published a special issue of Marine Mammal Science this month providing quantitative standards and guidelines for delimiting subspecies of cetaceans.

We published a special issue of Marine Mammal Science this month providing quantitative standards and guidelines for delimiting subspecies of cetaceans.

 

FUNDING AWARDED from U.S. Marine Mammal Commission for our proposal investigating the molecular systematics of Gulf of Mexico Bryde's whales.

 

In May, I attended the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission in Bled, Slovenia

My Invited Participant Badge from the IWC in Bled, Slovenia.

My Invited Participant Badge from the IWC in Bled, Slovenia.

 
"One of the hallmarks of the Smithsonian Institution’s James Smithson Postdoctoral Fellowship is the opportunity to gain an understanding of the interplay between scholarship and public policy. In May 2017, Dr. Matthew S. Leslie – the Secretary G. Wayne Clough Fellow (awarded through the James Smithson Fellowship Program) at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) & National Zoological Park (NZP) – was invited to do just that on an international scale."

Read more here:

https://www.smithsonianofi.com/blog/2017/06/21/a-whale-of-a-time/


Chilean Blue Whale Drone Cruise 2017

Just back from Chilóe!! - here are some excellent photos of our work; More updates to come!!

Research in collaboration w. amazing colleagues at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution & Fundacion MERI

photos by www.Danicasado.com


Published in Frontiers of Marine Science: Leslie & Morin - Using Genome-Wide SNPS to Detect Structure in ETP Dolphins!!

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmars.2016.00253/abstract#

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Millions of dolphins were killed in the eastern Pacific tuna fishery. This is why we have "dolphin-safe" tuna now. Thankfully, now only a relatively small number of dolphins are killed. But despite this, the dolphin numbers remain low - they haven't shown signs of recovery. In this study, I used large scale DNA data to solve a sticky question of how many breeding groups (i.e., populations) of dolphins were/are affected by this fishery. This is important because even the lower kill rate could impact recovery if it was concentrated on a small local population. For one of the species I studied, my data showed four populations: three that were known and one that was suspected. This means we were managing three of the four populations correctly. The one we weren't getting right is a small local population that needs special protection.

Knowing how many populations live in this area had been a tough problem to answer. Its been fun to apply new techniques to old specimens to answer it.

Thanks to all who helped along the way, esp Phil Morin, Victoria Pease, and the folks at NOAA SWFSC. Thanks to Uko Gorter for permission to use his illustrations in the figures.


 

ADVANCED UAS TRAINING

Nov 14-18 2016 - Jamul, CA - Along with a team of scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, I attended advanced UAS training at NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center. Drs. John Durban and Holly Fearnbach led the VERY hands-on course. We spent three straight days flying NOAA's APH-22, a custom whale-studying hexacopter. It was a fast-paced and exciting training. Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) technology is revolutionizing our ability to study whales. I will be taking the unmanned aerial system photoed above to Chile in February to study blue whales. Specifically, I'll be using high-resolution photos to measure Chilean blues in order to compare them to the two existing subspecies. Whaling records suggest that the Chilean animals are intermediate in length between the "true" blues and "pygmy" blues. Armed with this high-tech tool, I'll collect data to investigate if Chilean blues are part of an existing subspecies or a new subspecies. IN ADDITION, WE'RE COLLECTING DATA ON THE HEALTH OF THESE BLUE WHALES, INCLUDING MORPHOLOGICAL MEASUREMENTS AND BREATH SAMPLES FOR MICROBIOME STUDIES.

HOW DO YOU PRACTICE TRACKING WHALES WITH A DRONE? WHY WITH A BEACH-BALL OF COURSE!! HERE WE'RE PILOTING THE APH-22 HEXACOPTER IN POSITION OVER THE BALL IN ORDER TO SIMULATE PHOTOGRAMMETRY AND BREATH SAMPLING. THE BALL GENTLY BLEW AROUND OUR TRAINING COURSE GIVING A MOVING TARGET.

HOW DO YOU PRACTICE TRACKING WHALES WITH A DRONE? WHY WITH A BEACH-BALL OF COURSE!! HERE WE'RE PILOTING THE APH-22 HEXACOPTER IN POSITION OVER THE BALL IN ORDER TO SIMULATE PHOTOGRAMMETRY AND BREATH SAMPLING. THE BALL GENTLY BLEW AROUND OUR TRAINING COURSE GIVING A MOVING TARGET.

AMNH Conference on Conservation Science

Smithsonian's 2016 Smithson postdocs attend Student Conference on Conservation Science - October 20th-22nd 2016 - American Museum of Natural History. THis meeting is organized by the AMNH Center for biodiversity conservation to provide "opportunities for emerging scientists to professionally network, gain experience, and present and get feedback on their work. Interactions with peers as well as leaders in science, policy and management will encourage collaborations, inspire further research, and create lasting professional connections."

From left to right: Karin Burghardt, Matthew Leslie, Jeremy Feinburg, and Dara Satterfield.

From left to right: Karin Burghardt, Matthew Leslie, Jeremy Feinburg, and Dara Satterfield.

My first visit to the collection since starting at NMNH - helping Dr. Chris Marshall pull specimens for a project on southern ocean pinnipeds. this is just a small part of the expansive and invaluable pinniped collection there. I love this stuff. Photo by C. Marshall.

Senate Briefing on Marine Mammal Bycatch

sponsored by U.S. Marine Mammal Commission & WWF

A large group of researchers from the National Museum of Natural History attended the Senate Briefing on Marine Mammal Bycatch on September 14th, 2016. Pictured here is much of the group with several members of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission and Dr. Andy Read (Duke University) an honorary panelist. From left to right: Dr. Matt Leslie, Dr. Chris Marshall, Dr. Aly Fleming, Dr. Daryl Boness, Dr. Frances Gulland, Dr. Peter Thomas, Dr. Andrew Read, Dr. Nick Pyenson and Charley Potter

Photo by Matthew S. Leslie

Photo by Matthew S. Leslie

MY FIRST DAY AT THE NMNH

September 7th 2016 was a good day. I couldn't be more excited to work for such an amazing institution!

Photo my Matthew S. Leslie

 

Videos

These short videos illustrate some of what I do. Enjoy!

An in-depth report on the collaborative research on Chilean blue whales by Santiago News outlet Ahora Noticias. Our work with drones starts about 4:40. En Español! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8ilrrr8d1s

An in-depth report on the collaborative research on Chilean blue whales by Santiago News outlet Ahora Noticias. Our work with drones starts about 4:40. En Español! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8ilrrr8d1s

This is some raw video from an interview at UC San Diego about my research. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtYRyJSfW7E

This is some raw video from an interview at UC San Diego about my research. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtYRyJSfW7E

This is some raw video from an interview at UC San Diego about whales and exploration. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fflDEt7C1m0

This is some raw video from an interview at UC San Diego about whales and exploration. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fflDEt7C1m0

Video about biopsy sampling Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River, Cambodia (Photo Copyright WWF). https://vimeo.com/69944216

Video about biopsy sampling Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River, Cambodia (Photo Copyright WWF). https://vimeo.com/69944216