Dr Lesley Lancaster
Dr Lesley Lancaster

Dr Lesley Lancaster




PhD, University of California Santa Cruz, 2008. Dissertation title: Maternal Effects as Adaptations for Organizing Alternative Social and Antipredator Strategies.

Postdoctoral Fellow, National Center for Ecological Ananlysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), 2009-2012. Project title: Macroevolutionary causes of regional and habitat-based biodiversity gradients.

Postdoctoral associate, Lund University, 2012-2013. Project title: Adaptation at range limits in Ischnura elegans.

Lecturer, University of Aberdeen, 2013-

Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships

Self-assessment team, School of Biological Sciences bid for AthenaSWAN award

External Memberships

Associate editor, Journal of Animal Ecology

Editoral review board, Journal of Evolutionary Biology

Elected member, Royal Society of Edinburgh, Young Academy of Scotland


Research Overview

My research focuses on evolution under climate change, and evolutionary processes associated with geographic range limits. I am interested in how social and behavioral factors interact with changing ecological conditions to faciliate or hinder evolutionary change and macroevolutionary processes associated with geographic range shifts and habitat shifts. 

Current Research

Recent work focuses on niche evolution and population- and community-level processes associated with climate change and invasions. My current study systems include Scottish damselflies (Odonata), experimental evolution in seed beetles (Callosobruchus maculatus), and woodland arthropods across Great Britain. 

See the Lancaster Lab website for more information and opportunities to join the lab: http://lancasterlab.weebly.com


Erik Svensson (Lund University, Sweden), Barry Sinervo (UC Santa Cruz, USA), Bengt Hansson (Lund University, Sweden), Kathleen Kay (UC Santa Cruz, USA), Andrew McAdam (University of Guelph, Canada), Emma Goldberg (University of Minnesota, USA).

Funding and Grants

2016 - Royal Society research grant, "Biotic consequences of environmental thermal anomalies: an experimental approach using dams." £15,000.

2015 - NERC iCASE PhD studentship award, "Native biodiversity in human-impacted habitats: Applying NGS technology to arthropod assemblages in semi-natural and plantation oak woodlands.” £87,000.

2015 - BBSRC EASTBIO PhD studentship award, "Experimental niche evolution in seed beetles." In partnership with Mike Ritchie, U. St. Andrews (second supervisor). £95,000.

2014 - NERC NBAF Pilot sequencing award, "Migration, fragmentation, and adaptation: Evolutionary dynamics of altitudinal range expansions." £6,000.


Teaching Responsibilities

Courses I coordinate:

Introduction to Ecological Field Methods in Northern Scotland, a field course for MSc stidents in Ecology and Environmental Sustainability 

Behavioural Biology, a 3rd-year course focusing on the ecology and evolution of animal behaviour.

My teaching philosophy at the undergraduate level is to encourage critical assessment of central topics during extensive interactive class discussions and in-class activities. I expect to reward students who broaden their understanding of course material with wider reading of the primary literature and applying critical thought to what they have read.

At the masters level, I believe strongly in learning while doing, and provide students opportunities to learn from the real challenges encountered during field work in the sometimes challenging but always spectacular conditions of Scotland's north coast.


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Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals