John B. Horne

Marine Biology – Conservation – Molecular Ecology – Fisheries Genetics – Bioinformatics

Dusk near San Clemente Island, California

This young female green turtle was kind enough to let me take a small bit of skin for a DNA sample before being released back into San Diego Bay (National Marine Fisheries Service research permit #18238).

About me: I’m a marine biologist, geneticist, and bioinformatician interested in how the variation found in genes and genomes results in the biological diversity all around us. I currently work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) as part of a team dedicated to studying and protecting marine mammals and turtles.

My current research focuses on green and hawksbill turtles from the Pacific Ocean, including the foraging green turtles that visit the waters of San Diego Bay (left). Using population-specific DNA variants I can determine which nesting beaches these turtles come from. Most are from different parts of Mexico, but some make it all the way to California from Hawaii!

I’m very interested in the role that genetic variation plays in population recovery of marine species. Many populations of sea turtles are doing relatively well right now (thanks to decades of conservation) but not every population has rebounded, and some continue to decline in spite of conservation efforts. In many cases genetic diversity, or a lack thereof, probably has something to do with it.

In addition to my work on sea turtles, I also have years of experience as a fisheries geneticist studying a range of species, such as Australian threadfins, European anchovies, and Atlantic salmon. Sometimes I think of myself as a storyteller just trying to tell the stories of as many species as I can.

This website is currently undergoing renovations. More content is coming soon!