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Fellows Directory

Nicholas Barton

Nicholas Barton

Professor Nicholas Barton FRS


Elected: 1994


Nicholas Barton is an evolutionary biologist well known for his work on hybrid zones — physical locations where the hybrid offspring of two species are commonly found. Nicholas aims to understand the evolution of traits that depend on interactions between large numbers of genes. Such interactions determine the way that populations adapt in response to natural and artificial selection, as well as how they diverge to form separate species.

His research includes theoretical work on the evolution of sex, the role of epistasis (where a gene’s function is influenced by that of others), and the analysis of hybrid zones belonging to a variety of species. His studies are the basis for understanding both the evolution of continuously varying traits and how new species form yet remain distinct, despite hybridization.

Nicholas is a co-author of the textbook Evolution (2007). He was awarded the Bicentenary Medal of the Linnean Society of London in 1985. In 2008, he received the Darwin–Wallace Medal, which is only awarded every 50 years by the Linnean Society.

Professional positions

Professor, Institute Of Science and Technology

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
    • Population genetics, Evolution, Biological modelling


Hybridization, Population genetics, Natural speciation, Quantitative traits, Spatial analysis, Stochastic processes, Evolutionary computation, Evolutionary genetics


  • Darwin Medal

    For his major and extensive contributions to evolutionary biology, characterised by the application of sophisticated mathematical analysis but focussed on developing biological understanding rather than mathematical niceties.

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