prof. dr. H.L. Dugdale
Group members & research interests
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ecological genomics and speciation boundaries in the Myotis bats: How do environmental and ecological variation influence patterns of gene flow? Laura will investigate this question by studying genomic variation of a Myotis bat complex along the 1300 km length of the Baja California Peninsular in Mexico. By analysing spatial and genomic variation within and among the Myotis species Laura will improve our understanding of their ecological differentiation and environmental adaptations.
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:||23 September 2020 4.36 p.m.|