How do genes and environments interact to shape phenotypes? Does selection always lead to evolution? If not, what are the genetic mechanisms that can constrain adaptive evolution?
We try to address these broad questions using quantitative genetic theory to direct our empirical studies. Current topics of research include:
- GxE interactions and phenotypic plasticity
- Genetics of competition, aggression and dominance
- Maternal effects and parent-offspring conflict
- The genetics of animal personality
- Stress response evolution
- Natural selection and the genetic basis of evolutionary constraint
Field studies let us to investigate phenotypic evolution under ecologically relevant conditions, but lab studies more readily allow us to take an experimental approach. We try to combine both approaches. In the field we collaborate on long-running ecological studies including the St Kilda Soay sheep project and the Woodchester Hall badger project. In the lab we primarily uses small fish species – guppies and swordtails – to study the links between physiology, behaviour and life history. These are housed in the aquatic lab at CEC.