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Practical matters How to find us prof. dr. H.L. (Hannah) Dugdale

prof. dr. H.L. (Hannah) Dugdale

Chair of Evolutionary Medicine, Rosalind Franklin Fellow

Group members & research interests

Post-doctoral fellows

Alex Sparks, University of Leeds (in collaboration with David Richardson)

Genomics of senescence: Individuals senesce differently, but the causes remain poorly understood. Alex is using genomic and quantitative genetic analyses to investigate the genetic basis of senescence in the Seychelles warbler, and how this is maintained in the face of natural selection. Alex is also interested in how early-life conditions and life history decisions influence senescence.

PhD students

Frigg Speelman, University of Groningen (co-supervised by David Richardson & Simon Griffith)

Fitness benefits and heritability of long-term partnerships:  In socially monogamous species, pair-bonds may persist over multiple breeding seasons, which can have important fitness consequences. Therefore, partnerships are of fundamental evolutionary importance, yet studies predominantly focus on the benefits of extra-pair copulations, making the framework of life-history evolution with regard to partnerships incomplete. Frigg is exploring why some partnerships are maintained whereas others are not using the socially monogamous Seychelles warbler as a model system.

Euan Young, University of Groningen (co-supervised by Virpi Lummaa & Erik Postma)

Quantitative Genetics of Human Life-History: Why do we age and why do some individuals age faster than others? To answer these fundamental questions, Euan is using human archival datasets (historical rural Finns and the Swiss canton of Glarus) in a quantitative genetics framework. In particular, he is interested in the life history trade-offs underlying senescence; the interaction of genetic and environmental factors on senescence patterns; and how these changed across the demographic transition.

Janet Chik, University of Groningen (co-supervised by Simon Griffith & Julia Schroeder)

Sociality and senescence in house sparrows: ‘Why do organisms senesce differently’ has been a long-standing puzzle for evolutionary biologists. Senescence can be influenced by energy trade-offs, and these trade-offs can in turn be influenced by social interactions. Janet is investigating the apparent effects of sociality on senescence, as well as the evolutionary links between the two, using social networks from a long-term house sparrow population. In addition, she is also examining the potential impacts of heavy metal pollution on senescence and sociality in house sparrows.

Marianthi Tangili, University of Groningen (supervised with Simon Verhulst & Per Palsboll)

DNA methylation as an epigenetic clock of biological age: DNA methylation as an epigenetic clock of biological age: Determining an individual’s biological age is vital for understanding the ageing process, yet developing a comprehensive biomarker has proven difficult. DNA methylation (DNAm) changes with age, recently developed DNAm scores correlate strongly with chronological age in humans and a few other organisms and most importantly, individuals with a high DNAm score for their age appear to have a higher biological age. Marianthi aims to develop a novel DNAm score to robustly predict the biological age of zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) and investigate whether environmental manipulations known to affect ageing similarly affect DNAm dynamics.

Ellie Chesterton, University of Leeds (co-supervised by David Richardson & Simon Goodman)

Individual variation in reproductive success in the Seychelles warbler: The evolution of cooperation is a topic of great interest to behavioural ecologists. Ellie is studying the relative effect of genetic, social and environmental conditions on reproductive success in the Seychelles warbler. Specifically, Ellie is looking at how the social environment impacts fitness, how reproductive success differs between the two sexes, and how genomic basis underpinning this variation is distributed across the genome.

Tara Cox, University of Leeds (co-supervised by Terry Burke & Keith Hamer)

Causes and consequences of personality in the Seychelles warbler: Animal ‘personalities’ describe consistent differences between individuals in behavioural traits. Tara is researching whether personality traits, such as exploration and avoidance, are associated with varying life-history strategies that are seen in the Seychelles warbler. Tara is also investigating how personalities are maintained by studying the underlying genetic variance of personality traits and by partitioning their genetic variance across the genome.

Tom Brown, University of East Anglia (supervised with David Richardson & Martin Taylor)

Biomarkers of senescence in the Seychelles warbler: Why individuals of the same chronological age vary in biological age is not well understood. Biomarkers that reflect age-related declines in condition are the key to understanding this variation. Tom is testing which biomarkers of biological age best predict future survival and breeding success in the Seychelles warbler, and whether variation in these biomarkers can be explained by environmental and social factors. This knowledge will help guide interventions that could prolong healthy life.

Charlotte Bartleet-Cross, University of Sheffield (supervised with Terry Burke & Steve Paterson)

Conservation genomics of the Seychelles warbler: Inbreeding has a huge effect on the evolution and proliferation of small, isolated populations of conservation concern. Despite its importance, the genetic architecture of inbreeding and its influence on fitness is poorly understood. By analysing the genome and comparing inbreeding depression in source and translocated populations of Seychelles warblers, Charlotte will produce models to guide future conservation management plans.

Charli Davies, University of East Anglia (supervised with David Richardson & Martin Taylor)

Antagonistic effects and the maintenance of genetic variation: Genetic variation is crucial in maintaining the adaptive potential of populations. Variation is particularly important when considering immune genes, determining the ability of individuals to combat pathogens and thus influencing their survival. Charli is investigating how different mechanisms – including antagonistic effects on survival and reproduction – interact to maintain genetic variation at various immune genes within the Seychelles warbler.

Michela Busana, University of Groningen (supervised with Jan Komdeur and Franjo Weissing)

Population dynamics and dispersal: Individuals differ in their dispersal behaviour, from their natal territory to their breeding location. These differences are influenced by the social environment, which impacts fitness and population dynamics. Michela’s PhD combines experimental fieldwork with mathematical modelling. She is investigating how social interactions influence dispersal decisions in the cooperatively breeding Seychelles warbler, and the consequences this has on population dynamics.

Last modified:25 June 2022 2.40 p.m.