Research

Our lab is interested in the fundamental forces of evolution and how these interact to generate and maintain genomic - and ultimately phenotypic - variation.

Infering demography and selection

Our theoretical work uses coalescent theory to develop new methods for inferring past demographic and selective events from genomic data. 

Such inferences are based on either analytic results or simulations and have become instrumental for understanding the evolutionary history of populations and species including that of our own.

Our empirical work applies these modelling approaches to genomic data from natural Insect populations and is centred around two general themes: 

Speciation

We are interested in the geographic setting and the genetic architectures of the reproductive barriers involved. In collaboration with Mike Richie (St. Andrews) and Bill Etges (Aransas), we are generating and analysing whole genome re-sequence data for a radiation of cactus-associated fruit flies (Drosophila mojavensis). We are particularly interested in the role of chromosomal inversions in speciation.

A recent project takes a comparative approach and uses European butterflies as a model system. Our aim is to find out if and how speciation histories and genomic outliers of divergence correlate with key life-history traits (host-plant range, sexual selection) and whether the same genes and genomic architectures are involved repeatedly in the speciation process.

Community assembly

We are interested in the co-evolutionary histories of ecological communities and are using population genomic data to reconstruct the demographic and selective history of a natural insect community. An ongoing project with Graham Stone (Edinburgh) uses oak gallwasps and their Chalcidoid parasitoid enemies as a model to understand how natural communities assemble and co-evolved on a continental scale.