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Carolyn A Bergstrom, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Marine Biology 
Arts and Sciences - Natural Sciences


796-6447 (Fax)

Anderson Bldg 205B, Juneau Campus



  • B.S. 1995, University of Arizona (Tucson, Arizona)
  • Ph.D. 2002, University of Victoria (Victoria, British Columbia)
  • 2003-2007, Alberta Ingenuity Postdoctoral Fellow, Bamfield Marine Science Center
  • 2008-2009, International Polar Year Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Alaska Southeast


How does natural selection maintain phenotypic variation within marine species?  What role do ecological interactions like predation and competition play?  My research interests are broadly concerned with these questions.  More specifically, I investigate (1) how ecological interactions in the ocean orchestrate relationships between form, function, and fitness, (2) the ecofunctional implications of bilateral asymmetries, and (3) the interaction between phenotypic plasticity and heritable variation.   I explore these topics with a variety of techniques, including morphometrics and behavioral observations, field experiments, multivariate statistics, stable isotope analyses, and experimental assessment of fitness.

I currently have two main research projects underway. The first of these is the evolution of body asymmetry in flatfish. Flatfish exhibit remarkably derived body morphology.  They undergo metamorphosis as pelagic larvae, where one eye migrates over the dorsal midline so that both eyes are on the same side of the head.  The fish then lie on the ocean floor, eyed-side facing up.  While the vast majority of the 715 flatfish species contain all left-eyed or all right-eyed individuals, 7 species contain both morphs. To date, we don't have a good understanding of the evolutionary trajectory flatfish took to become asymmetric, or the significance of asymmetry direction.  One polymorphic species, the starry flounder, exhibits a cline in the north Pacific in the relative frequency of left- vs. right-eyed individuals, and the two morphs show evidence of ecological segregation. It is one of the first demonstrations of the ecological significance of polymorphism in a marine species, and contributes to our understanding how asymmetry evolved across the flatfish order. 

My second current research project involves how selective predation maintains variation in body color and color plasticity of sculpins.  Sculpins exhibit tremendous variation in their body coloration and their ability to change color both among and within populations.  Collaborators (David Tallmon, Andrew Whiteley, Tyler Linderoth) and I are currently investigating the role selective predation plays in molding the expression of color and color plasticity in these fish. This could have important implications to our understanding of color variation and ecological selection in other cryptic marine fish species such as juvenile flatfishes and gunnels.

Select publications
Curriculum vitae

Courses Taught:

  • BIOL 215 Introduction to Marine Biology
  • BIOL 375 Current Topics in Biology
  • BIOL 427 Introduction to Ichthyology
  • BIOL 481 Marine Ecology

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