We study the effects of environmental change on population-level evolutionary processes, and we use this information to predict and explain large-scale ecological patterns, processes, and trends.
Our lab uses ecological field studies and experimental methods to identify how ongoing, dynamic shifts in geographic range, population structure, and community compositions affect physiology, microevolutionary processes, and genetic changes within regional species pools.
Under wide-scale and prevalent anthropogenic effects on global habitats, these small-scale changes within species and assemblages add up to a massive impact on global ecology, which we address using comparative and modeling approaches.
News and Updates
3-3-2016: Research grant awarded from the Royal Society to study responses of semi-aquatic invertebrates to thermal anomalies below dams.
29-1-2016: New paper out in Nature Climate Change. Here I show that previously-reported patterns of latitudinal invariance in insect thermal limits are the result of widespread, recent insect range expansions and pest invasions. The conclusions are that: 1) upper thermal tolerances are less constrained than previously thought, but 2) native species at high latitude lack 'warming tolerance' to future climate changes, and 3) pest species will be the ones to thrive at high latitudes under a moderate warming scenario.
10-2-2016: PhD opportunity for Fall 2016: I am seeking a student to evaluate community-level processes in response to climate change in forest arthropods. The project will rely on metabarcoding approaches (i.e., sequencing homogenised arthropod samples) and will be co-supervised by UK Forest Research (FR) scientists. The student will develop conceptual advances in community ecology, and will also contribute to the development of rapid and efficient forest biodiversity assessments to facilitate conservation and management of UK forests. See the advertisement here for more information.
10-2-2016: Our paper on changes in gene expression in response to thermal stress over the course of a recent range expansion is now in press at Molecular Ecology. You can access the paper here.
Our paper on release from selection on upper thermal tolerances during range expansions is now in press at Journal of Biogeography. You can read the paper here.
The Lancaster Lab welcomes Aoife Leonard as incoming BBSRC-EastBio PhD student for Fall 2015.
PhD opportunity for Fall 2015 (closed): I am seeking a talented and motivated PhD student to investigate the role of evolutionary trade-offs and population connectivity to direct niche evolution trajectories during adaptive radiations. The project will involve experimental evolution in seed beetles (Callosobruchus) and in silico modeling. All relevant training will be provided. The project will be co-supervised by Prof. Mike Ritchie (St. Andrews) and Jorgen Ripa (Lund). More information can be found here.