Professor Roger Butlin

School of Biosciences

Professor of Evolutionary Biology

Profile photo of Roger Butlin
+44 114 222 0097

Full contact details

Professor Roger Butlin
School of Biosciences
Alfred Denny Building
Western Bank
S10 2TN
  • 1973-1976 Jesus College, Cambridge BA Natural Sciences (Genetics)
  • 1979-1982 Ph.D. Department of Genetics, University of Nottingham
  • 1982-1986 Senior Research Associate, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia.
  • 1987-1992 Royal Society 1983 University Research Fellow, School of Pure and Applied Biology, University of Wales College of Cardiff
  • 1992-1994 Lecturer, Department of Genetics, The University of Leeds
  • 1994-1999 Reader in Evolutionary Biology, School of Biology, The University of Leeds
  • 1999-2004 Professor of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biology, The University of Leeds
  • 2013-2014 Tage Erlander Guest Professor, Swedish Research Council (held at the University of Gothenburg), 50%
  • 2014-2015 Waernska Guest Professor, University of Gothenburg, 50%

Since 2016 I have spent 30% of my time at the University of Gothenburg as Guest Professor.

Research interests

My research is concerned primarily with the origin of barriers to gene exchange, especially the evolutionary genetics of reproductive isolation. I have used insect acoustic and chemical signals as model systems to investigate the controversial process of reinforcement, particularly in parapatry, and questions such as the inheritance of signal characters and the form of female preferences. I am currently working on local adaptation and speciation in winkles (Littorina), with European Research Council and NERC funding, and using experimental evolution in rotifers to address similar questions in the lab (with NERC funding). I also collaborate in related projects with Drosophila subobscura and D. montana, and with host races of the pea aphid (Acrythosiphon). Another area of research concerns the evolution of asexual reproduction. I am interested in evolution at range margins and its implications for conservation genetics. I collaborate in studies of the genetic basis of virulence in the parasitic plant Striga. We use a wide range of approaches from field behaviour and ecology to genomics.


Journal articles

Research group

Graduate Students


Teaching activities

My teaching is currently restricted to Level 3, where I contribute to APS344 Topics in Evolutionary Genetics, which is based around student-led discussion sessions rather than conventional lectures. I run one of three topics, on the genetics of speciation, using recent, high-profile papers to bring students right up to date with current controversies.

Recent Level 4 MBiolSci students and MRes students in my group have worked on speciation-related questions in the rocky-shore gastropod, Littorina, rotifers or pea aphids. They have used ecological, morphometric and behavioural approaches as well as molecular genetic techniques.

Professional activities
  • Distinguished Fellow, European Society for Evolutionary Biology, 2019
  • Foreign Member, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, elected 2017
  • Doctor of Science (honoris causa), University of Gothenburg, 2016
  • President, European Society for Evolutionary Biology, 2013-2015
  • Darwin-Wallace Medal, 2015, awarded by the Linnean Society of London
  • Associate Editor, American Naturalist, from 2015
  • Editorial Board, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, B, from 2015
  • Editor in Chief, Heredity, 2009-2012
  • Member (2008, 2010) and Chair (2012, 2014), European Research Council Advanced Grants Panel, LS8