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Evolution, Behaviour and Genomics

The focus of this research group is on the evolutionary, genetic and functional bases of behaviour, adaptation and speciation.

Research topics include sexual selection and sexual conflict, ecological immunity, cooperative behaviour, evolutionary genomics of adaptation and evolutionary developmental biology.

Study systems range from humans, birds and fish to insects and snails. The group hosts the Sheffield node of the NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility.

NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility

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Prof. Tim Birkhead

Please note that Professor Birkhead is no longer supervising PhD students

  • Behavioural ecology of birds
  • Sperm competition and cryptic female choice
  • Population biology of marine birds

Prof. Mike Brockhurst

What are the causes and consequences of horizontal gene transfer in microbial communities?
How and why do new symbioses evolve to become stable and obligate?
What are the evolutionary drivers and clinical effects of pathogen adaptation and diversification in chronic infections of humans?

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Prof. Terry Burke

  • Molecular and genomic methods in evolution and ecology
  • Sexual selection and mating systems in vertebrates
  • Population genetics of natural populations

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Prof. Roger Butlin

  • Speciation
  • The paradox of sex
  • Evolution at range margins

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Dr Pascal-Antoine Christin

  • Evolutionary ecology of plants
  • Genomics and molecular evolution
  • Phylogenetics and adaptative transitions

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Prof. Ben Hatchwell

  • Social evolution and vertebrate cooperative breeding systems
  • Parental investment strategies
  • Avian population ecology


Dr Nicola Hemmings

  • Causes of infertility and embryo death
  • Variation in sperm traits and its influence on fertilisation success
  • Mechanisms of female sperm selection
  • Effects of environmental change on reproductive success in wild populations

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Dr Nicola Nadeau

  • The evolution and genetics of colour and pattern variation
  • The genetic and developmental control of structural colour in animals
  • The process of divergence and speciation within the genome
  • The genetic analysis of natural hybrid zones to identify loci under selection

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Dr Mirre Simons

  • Evolution and mechanisms of ageing
  • Genetics of dietary restriction: why eating less extends lifespan
  • Demograpgy of mortality: to reveal the elusive physiology of ageing

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Prof. Michael Siva-Jothy

  • Ecological immunity
  • Sexual conflict
  • Reproductive immunity

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Prof. Jon Slate

  • The genetic basis of individual fitness variation
  • Detecting the footprint of natural selection by genome sequence analysis
  • Gene mapping in wild and domestic populations

Dr Victor Soria-Carrasco

  • Global rates and patterns of evolutionary diversification
  • Genomics of local adaptation and speciation
  • Ecological and evolutionary genomics of complex defence strategies

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Dr Penny Watt

  • Mate choice and sexual selection in aquatic animals
  • The role of olfactory cues in mate choice in fish
  • The genetic basis of mate choice in fish
x and y chromosomes

Dr Alison Wright

  • Sexual conflict
  • Sex chromosome origins, turnover and evolution
  • Genome evolution

Dr Kai Zeng

  • Modelling in population genetics
  • Molecular evolution and variation
  • Analysis of DNA sequence data

Group members


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