Modelling ecoevolutionary dynamics

The School has world leading expertise in modelling ecoevolutionary dynamics in structured, natural populations.

This involves two major strands: Firstly, the development of stochastic individual based models to understand the evolutionary responses to environmental change, especially in relation to dispersal and range shifts, and; secondly the application of sophisticated quantitative genetic analyses on long-term, large scale multigenerational datasets to test key hypotheses around evolution and coevolution of life history traits, mating systems and fitness.

Functional and ecological genomics

Research combines high-throughput phenotyping and experimental studies with state-of-the-art transcriptomic, genome sequencing, QTL mapping and genetic association analyses to understand the genetic basis of ecologically meaningful, commercially important and functionally relevant traits.

This research is directed to providing insight into the evolutionary adaptations of organisms to environmental change, and also addresses key challenges in agriculture and aquaculture by facilitating selective breeding programmes.

Molecular Ecology

Molecular markers play an integral role in much of the ecology research being undertaken within the School. They have been used to understand better fundamental processes such as characterising dispersal and gene flow, identifying demographically independent populations and stock structure, and determining relatedness and social structure within populations. 

There has also been considerable emphasis on understanding the causes and consequences of variation in levels of neutral and adaptive genetic diversity among individuals and populations - how do population dynamics, demographic history and environmental change influence extant genetic variation and how does this impinge on individual fitness, behaviour,population viability and the evolution of life histories.

Molecular data is also being utilised for resolving evolutionary relationships among species and for identifying the processes involved in shaping their distribution

This work involves neutral polymorphisms such as SNPs and microsatellites, ecologically meaningful candidate loci such as the MHC, and latterly genome-wide variation gleaned from next-generation sequencing.

Comparative genomics

Many species underwent evolutionary adaptations that allowed them to thrive in their environment. These adaptations can include changes to anatomy, physiology and metabolism and are driven by modification to genes over several generations. By comparing genomes of different species, the defining characteristics or similarity can be identified. This research is directed to provide insight into the cellular functioning of species, how this may have changed through evolution and what the impact may be for their conservation.


Evolutionary biology aims to understand how biological diversity is generated. We use an integrated approach, merging ecology, evolution and developmental biology (Eco-Evo-Devo),  to uncover the roles ecological and/or developmental processes play in evolution