I'd like to understand what ecological and genetic factors determine maximum rates of evolution in time and space. Such limits to adaptation determine why species have different (and differently sized) distributions and niche widths, as well as how these distributions are affected by environmental change, particularly habitat loss and climate change. My group's research uses a combination of fieldwork, molecular genetics, and quantitative genetics.
Currently funded projects include: (1) Limits to adaptation along different ecological gradients in rainforest fruitflies; (2) Evolution in response to climate change in the UK Brown Argus butterfly; (3) Theoretical models of evolution at ecological margins where gene flow and selection interact and (4) Local adaptation and evolutionary potential in plant-pollinator interactions in the UK cowslip. I also collaborate with Prof Simon Hiscock on the Sicilian hybrid zone in Senecio plants, and on polyploid speciation in Sorbus trees in the Avon Gorge.
I am responsible for promoting Public Understanding of Science in the School of Biological Sciences, and am on the Steering Committee for the Bristol Natural History Consortium, which organises the annual Bristol Festival of Nature, and the Communicate conference for environmental communicators. I am also actively involved in University's new Cabot Centre for research into environmental change, and in issues of biodiversity and sustainability more generally.
Recently, I took part in a panel discussion on biodiversity loss and population growth for BBC Radio 4's "Saving Species" programme.
I am always keen to hear from students who are interesting in postgraduate research in our group, either at the PhD or MSc level. Any vacancies for specific projects are advertised on the group website, but other sources of funding can be worth pursuing at other times. Applicants should have a good degree in a relevant subject, and a passion for evolutionary biology and genetics.
I am also very happy to assist postdocs in applications for research fellowship at Bristol in an area related to my interests. Please feel free to contact me directly to discuss your project ideas.
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