Assistant Professor
  • Ph.D. in Molecular Ecology, School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, University of Durham, UK,
  • Degree in Biology, Plant Genetics, Department of Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology, University of Milan, Italy

Dr. Natoli is a molecular ecologist specialized in conservation genetics of marine species, specifically marine mammals. Her primary interest is utilizing molecular markers and monitoring techniques to investigate population structure and evolutionary mechanisms that shape populations in order to support conservation of species. She has a broad background covering plant genetics, chemistry, microbiology and general ecology, She is currently concentrating her scientific efforts on the cetacean species occurring in the Gulf and Northern Indian Ocean coordinating with the local authorities and international research groups, developing different lines of long term research to support the development of conservation measures for these species and the marine ecosystem. These include boat based and land based monitoring surveys, stranding monitoring, diet and genetic analysis and citizen science.


  • Adjunct Assistant Professor – Dept. of Life and Environmental Sciences, Zayed University Dubai – 2016 -2019
  • Scientific External consultant – 2017-2018
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor – Dept. Biological Sciences, UAE University - 2010 – 2013
  • External scientific collaborator – advisor - 2005 – 2010
  • Researcher – Department of Zootechnics, University of Piacenza (Italy) - 1998
  • Researcher – Tethys Research Institute (Italy) - 1995-2000


Abu Dhabi - Khalifa City, FF1-1-052


+971 2 5993298

Teaching Areas

  • Biology
  • Population genetics
  • Ecology
  • Marine mammals

Research and Professional Activities

  • Whales and dolphin research in UAE

  • UAE Dolphin Project Initiative (

  • Conservation genetics of hawksbill turtles in UAE


  • IUCN cetacean specialist ( list member

  • International Whaling Commission ( IP and country delegation member

  • Arabian Seas Whale Network ( member

Google Scholar Profile


  • Gray, H., Chen I., Moura, A.E., Natoli, A., Nishida, S., Tanabe, S., Minton, G., Ponnampalam, L. S., Kiani, M. S., Culloch, R., Gore, M., Särnblad A., Amir O., Berggren P., Collins T., Wilson A.J., Baldwin, R., Hoelzel, A. R., 2021. Comparative biogeography and the evolution of population structure for bottlenose and common dolphins in the Indian Ocean. Journal of Biogeography, (in press).

  • Di Sciara, G. N., Baldwin, R., Braulik, G., Collins, T. and Natoli, A. 2021. Marine mammals of the Arabian Seas. In: The Arabian Seas: Biodiversity, Environmental Challenges and Conservation Measures. (L.A. Jawad, Ed.), Springer, Germany.

  • Moura, A.E., Shreves, K., Pilot, M., Andrews, K.R., Moore, D.M., Kishida, T., Möller, L., Natoli, A., Gaspari, S., McGowen, M. and Gray, H., 2020. Phylogenomics of the genus Tursiops and closely related Delphininae reveals extensive reticulation among lineages and provides inference about eco-evolutionary drivers. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 146, p.106756.

  • Gray, H., Nishida, S., Welch, A. J., Moura, A. E., Tanabe, S., Kiani, M. S., Culloch, R., Möller, L., Natoli, A., Ponnampalam, L. S., Minton, G., Gore, M., Collins, T., Willson, A., Baldwin, R., Hoelzel, A. R., 2018. Cryptic lineage differentiation among Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in the northwest Indian Ocean. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 122. pp. 1-14. ISSN 1055-7903.

  • Natoli A., Phillips K. P., Richardson D. S., Jabado R.. W., 2017. Low genetic diversity after a bottleneck in a population of a Critically Endangered migratory marine turtle species. J. Exper. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 491, 9-18

  • Gonzalvo J., Lauriano G., Hammond P.S., Viaud-Martinez K.A., Fossi M.C., Natoli A., Marsili L., 2016. The Gulf of Ambracia’s Common Bottlenose Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus: A Highly Dense and yet Threatened Population. In Advances in Marine Biology Volume 75; Mediterranean Marine Mammal Ecology and Conservation. doi:10.1016/bs.amb.2016.07.002

  • Stockin K.A., Amaral A.R., Latimer J., Lambert D.M. & Natoli A., 2013. Population genetic structure and taxonomy of the common dolphin (Delphinus sp.) at its southernmost range limit: New Zealand waters. Mar. Mamm. Sci., 30 (1): 44-63.

  • Moura A, Natoli A, Rogan E., Hoelzel A.R., 2012. Evolution of Functional Genes in Cetaceans Driven by Natural Selection on a Phylogenetic and Population Level. Evol.Biol. 40 (3): 341-354.

  • Vassilakos D., Natoli A., Dahlheim M., Hoelzel A.R, 2009. Balancing and directional selection at exon-2 of the MHC DQB1 locus among populations of Odontocete cetaceans. Mol. Biol. Evol. 26: 681-9.

  • Natoli A., Cañadas A., Vaquero C., Politi E., Fernández-Piqueras J., Hoelzel A.R., 2008. Conservation genetics of the short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) in the Mediterranean Sea and in the eastern North Atlantic Ocean. Conservation Genetics, 9:1479-1487.

  • Natoli A., Peddermors V.M., Hoelzel A.R., 2008. Population structure of bottlenose dolphins impacted by bycatch along the east coast of South Africa. Conservation genetics. 9(3): 627-636.

  • Natoli A., Cañadas A., Peddemors V. M., Aguilar A., Vaquero C., Fernandez-Piqueras P. and Hoelzel A. R., 2006. Phylogeography and alpha taxonomy of the common dolphin (Delphinus sp.). J. Evol. Biol. 19:943-954.

  • Natoli A., Birkun A., Aguilar A., Lopez A. and Hoelzel A.R. 2005. Habitat structure and the dispersal of male and female bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) Proc. R. Soc. B 272: 1217-1226.

  • Natoli A., Peddermors V.M., Hoelzel A.R. 2004. Population structure and speciation in the genus Tursiops based on microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA analyses. J. Evol. Biol. 17(2): 363-75.