Queen's University, Belfast

Current Position Lecturer
Telephone +44 (0) 2890972280
Email s.helyar@qub.ac.uk
Departments School of Biological Sciences
Quadrat Core Themes Biodiversity, Environmental Management
Methods I Use Omics and Informatics


Key Research Interests

  • I’m a molecular ecologist, with a wide range of interests, and work on marine, terrestrial and fresh water systems.
  • Population genetics and genomics, including local adaption, and evidence-based conservation
  • eDNA and metabarcoding, as tools for looking at community ecology etc.
  • Invasive species, their impact on native communities, and tools for early detection
  • Methods of making the lab portable, I’m also excited by being about being a molecular field ecologist… so interested in applying mobile genomic tools to any exciting questions.

Recent Key Papers

  • Bylemans J, Maes GE, Diopere E, Cariani A, Senn H, Taylor M, Helyar SJ, Tinti F, Ogden R, Volckaert FAM (2016) The ones that got away: molecular traceability tools for assigning the origin of aquaculture escapees Aquaculture Environment Interactions 8:131-145.
  • Limborg MT*, Helyar SJ*, de Bruyn M, Taylor MI, Nielsen EE, Carvalho GR, FishPopTrace Consortium, Bekkevold D. (2012) Spatially explicit variation among candidate genes indicate complex environmental selection in a weakly structured marine fish, the Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) Molecular Ecology 21(15):3686-703. *Joint first authors
  • Nielsen E, Cariani A, Mac Aoidh E, Maes G, Milano I, Ogden R, Taylor M, Hemmer-Hansen J, Babbucci M, Bargelloni L, Bekkevold D, Diopere E, Grenfell L, Helyar S, Limborg MT, Martinsohn JT, McEwing R, Panitz F, Patarnello T, Tinti F, Van Houdt JKJ, Volckaert FAM, Waples RS, FishPopTrace Consortium, Carvalho GR (2012) Gene-associated markers provide tools for tackling illegal fishing and false eco-certification. Nature Communications 3:851.

Summary Title of Current Studentships

  • The management of the Natterjack toad in Kerry, Ireland: population genetics and use of eDNA (Co-Supervision : Reid).
  • Urban Stream Restoration in Belfast- Identifying opportunities to improve stream management and increase the ecological and societal worth of urban streams within the city (Co-Supervision : Emmerson).
  • Assessing the impact of a major rainbow trout escape on the wild salmon and trout populations of the Mourne River system, Northern Ireland (will include metabarcoding /eDNA) (Co-Supervision : Dick).
  • QUADRAT DTP student, Elise Baas: Harnessing the eDNA in tidal flows to assess marine biodiversity
  • QUADRAT DTP student, Claire McFarlane: The Irish Damselfly: identifying population genetic structure and optimising habitat management for an iconic Irish species
  • QUADRAT DTP student, Heidi McIlvenny: Coastal connections: Mapping the extent, health and connectivity of Northern Ireland’s Blue Carbon ecosystems