Scheme: International Incoming Fellowships
Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Dates: Jan 2008-Jan 2010
Summary: This project summary is not available for publication.
Scheme: University Research Fellowship
Dates: Oct 2000-Feb 2011
Summary: My research focuses on the process of evolution occurring in real time in wild animal populations. We use long-term studies of wild animal populations, in which known individuals are monitored throughout their lives in their natural environments, for many generations. These studies are invaluable for revealing the impact of ongoing climate change on natural populations. They also allow us to investigate Darwinian evolution in action, by exploring its two core ingredients: the existence of heritable (genetically-based) variance between individuals, and differences between individuals in their fitness (natural selection). We use DNA profiling to determine the reproductive success of each individual and also the genetic basis of the differences between animals that we observe in their breeding success, growth rates, behaviour and so forth. One area of particular interest is the effect of changing environmental conditions on evolutionary processes and on the expression of genetic variance, and a second is ubiquitous process of ageing, its determinants and its implications. Through the novel application of complex statistical techniques, I have opened up new avenues of research into the relative importance of the environment versus genes on animal life histories, allowing me to address questions previously restricted to laboratory experiments. This exciting new field of research is growing rapidly, and many of our results have been published in top-ranking journals.