Matthew Knope received a Bachelors degree with honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz (1999), a Masters degree from San Francisco State University (2004), and a Ph.D. from Stanford University (2012). He was an HHMI Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Dept. of Biology at Stanford (2012) and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Dept. of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University (2013-2014). He is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Biology at Stanford.

Academic Appointments

Administrative Appointments

  • HHMI post-doctoral teaching fellow, Stanford University (2012 - 2012)
  • Post-doctoral research scholar, Stanford University (2013 - 2014)

Honors & Awards

  • Norman K. Wessells Teaching Award, Stanford University, Dept. of Biology (2011)
  • Teaching Excellence Award, Stanford University, Dept. of Biology (2011)
  • GK-12 Teaching Fellowship Award, National Science Foundation (2006-2008)
  • Science Fair Teacher of the Year, Santa Cruz County (2005)
  • Nelson Fellowship Award for Academic Excellence, San Francisco State University (2002)
  • Graduate Fellowship Award for Teaching Excellence, San Francisco State University (2001)
  • Thesis Honors, University of California, Santa Cruz (1999)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Editorial review board, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (2013 - Present)

All Publications

  • Limited role of functional differentiation in early diversification of animals Nature Communications Knope, M. L., Heim, N. A., Frishkoff, L. O., Payne, J. L. 2015; 6 (6455): 1-6

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ncomms7455

  • Cope's rule in the evolution of marine animals Science Heim, N. A., Knope, M. L., Schaal, E. K., Wang, S. C., Payne, J. L. 2015; 347 (6224): 867-870

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1260065

  • Autotomy in porcelain crabs is an effective escape mechanism from rockfish predation MARINE ECOLOGY-AN EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE Knope, M. L., Larson, R. J. 2014; 35 (4): 471-477

    View details for DOI 10.1111/maec.12103

    View details for Web of Science ID 000345270900007

  • Metabolic dominance of bivalves predates brachiopod diversity decline by more than 150 million years PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES Payne, J. L., Heim, N. A., Knope, M. L., McClain, C. R. 2014; 281 (1783)


    • Premise of the study: Invasive plant species threaten native plants in multiple ways, one of which is genetic assimilation through hybridization. However, information regarding hybridization between related alien and native plant species is generally lacking. In Hawaii, the invasive Central American species Bidens pilosa and Bidens alba have colonized natural areas and often grow alongside the native Hawaiian Bidens species, a clade representing an adaptive radiation of 27 endemic taxa, many of which are threatened or endangered. • Methods: To assess the risk of hybridization between introduced and native Hawaiian Bidens (which will readily hybridize with one another), we undertook crosses in cultivation between the invasive species and nine native Bidens taxa. • Key results: The majority of the crosses formed no viable seed. Although seed did mature in several of the crosses, morphological screening of the resulting seedlings indicated that they were the result of self-pollination. • Conclusions: This result suggests that B. alba and B. pilosa are incapable of hybridizing with these Hawaiian Bidens taxa. Further, we found that B. alba in Hawaii was self-compatible, despite self-incompatibility throughout its native range, and that the tetraploid species B. alba and the hexaploid species B. pilosa were cross-compatible, although pollen fertility was low.

    View details for DOI 10.3732/ajb.1300018

    View details for Web of Science ID 000321306600023

    View details for PubMedID 23733530

  • Adaptive morphological shifts to novel habitats in marine sculpin fishes JOURNAL OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY Knope, M. L., Scales, J. A. 2013; 26 (3): 472-482


    Sculpin fishes of the North American Pacific Coast provide an ideal opportunity to examine whether adaptive morphological character shifts have facilitated occupation of novel habitat types because of their well-described phylogeny and ecology. In this group, the basal-rooted species primarily occupy the subtidal habitat, whereas the species in the most distal clades are found in the intertidal. We tested multiple evolutionary models to determine whether changes in body size and changes in number of scales are adaptive for habitat use in sculpins. Based on a statistically robust, highly resolved molecular phylogeny of 26 species of sculpins, in combination with morphometric and habitat affinity data, our analyses show that an adaptive model based on habitat use best explains changes in body size and number of scales. The habitat model was statistically supported over models of neutral evolution, stabilizing selection across all habitats, and three clade-based models. We suggest that loss of scales and reduction of body size in the intertidal may facilitate cutaneous breathing in air when tidepools become hypoxic during low tides. This study demonstrates how the combined use of phylogenetic, ecological and statistical approaches helps to identify traits that are likely adaptive to novel habitats.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/jeb.12088

    View details for Web of Science ID 000314988900002

    View details for PubMedID 23316868

  • Phylogenetics of the marine sculpins (Teleostei: Cottidae) of the North American Pacific Coast MOLECULAR PHYLOGENETICS AND EVOLUTION Knope, M. L. 2013; 66 (1): 341-349


    With 92 species along the North American Pacific Coast, marine sculpins represent the most species-rich radiation of fishes in this region. I used the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and the nuclear ribosomal S7 intron for 99 species (76 North American, 19 Asian, and four North Atlantic) to produce the most complete phylogenetic hypothesis yet generated for this assemblage. Maximum likelihood and Bayesian analyses produced highly similar tree topologies. While many previously proposed groupings based on morphology are recovered, the molecular data suggest that a number of genera are para- or polyphyletic. However, this analysis supports the monophyly of one large clade that is found exclusively along the North American Pacific Coast (Chitonotous-Ruscarius-Artedius-Orthonopius-Clinocottus-Leiocottus-Oligocottus). Some sibling species have disjunct ranges, suggesting allopatric speciation. However, many other sibling species have largely overlapping ranges, and repeated habitat shifts appear to have facilitated diversification.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ympev.2012.10.008

    View details for Web of Science ID 000312417800029

    View details for PubMedID 23099148

  • Area and the rapid radiation of Hawaiian Bidens (Asteraceae) JOURNAL OF BIOGEOGRAPHY Knope, M. L., Morden, C. W., Funk, V. A., Fukami, T. 2012; 39 (7): 1206-1216
  • Evolutionary history, immigration history, and the extent of diversification in community assembly FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY Knope, M. L., Forde, S. E., Fukami, T. 2012; 3
  • K-12 science education and "broader impacts" FRONTIERS IN ECOLOGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT Spalding, H. L., Gupta, A., Barshis, D. J., Knope, M. L., Tice, K. A., Dirzo, R., Wilber, C. 2010; 8 (4): 217-218
  • Molecular support for marine sculpin (Cottidae; Oligocottinae) diversification during the transition from the subtidal to intertidal habitat in the Northeastern Pacific Ocean MOLECULAR PHYLOGENETICS AND EVOLUTION Ramon, M. L., Knope, M. L. 2008; 46 (2): 475-483


    Sculpins in the genera Ruscarius, Artedius, Clinocottus, and Oligocottus are common intertidal and subtidal benthic fishes of the Northeastern Pacific Ocean. While there has been a long history of attempts to reconstruct the evolutionary relationships within this clade, studies have largely resulted in conflicting conclusions. Current ideas regarding the limits of species and genera in this subfamily (Oligocottinae) and their branching order are based primarily on morphology [Bolin, R.L., 1944. A Review of the Marine Cottid Fishes of California. Natural History Museum of Stanford [corrected] University, Stanford [corrected] University, California; Bolin, R.L., 1947. The Evolution of the Marine Cottidae of California with a Discussion of the Genus as a Systematic Category. Stanford [corrected] University, California]. The primary objectives of this study are: (a) to determine if the phylogenetic relationships inferred from DNA characters are concordant with those inferred from morphological characters and (b) to determine if a habitat shift from the subtidal to the intertidal environment resulted in the diversification of the group. Cytochrome b and Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide Dehydrogenase subunit one mitochondrial gene fragments and one nuclear intron (S7 ribosomal protein) were sequenced in order to infer the phylogenetic relationships within this subfamily. Maximum likelihood and Bayesian algorithms were employed to reconstruct phylogenetic trees. We found that several genera in this clade are not monophyletic and that there is a clear phylogenetic signal indicating that a habitat shift from the subtidal to the intertidal habitat has resulted in the diversification of the Oligocottinae.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ympev.2007.11.005

    View details for Web of Science ID 000254133600006

    View details for PubMedID 18248743

  • Hair-trigger autotomy in porcelain crabs is a highly effective escape strategy BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY Wasson, K., Lyon, B. E., Knope, M. 2002; 13 (4): 481-486