The MacColl Lab

University of Nottingham


Research outline: We are a whole organism evolutionary ecology lab. We are fascinated by the diversity of life. We are particularly interested in the ecological causes of, and genetic responses to, natural selection, especially in the context of the processes that drive adaptive radiation in contemporary wild populations. But some of us also do conservation biology. Mainly we study the three-spined stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus. Developments in genetic technology mean that the study of evolution is crossing the threshold of an extraordinary new period of discovery. Genome sequencing is rapidly revealing the proximate, genetic basis for trait variation and evolution.

There is also a massive opportunity to further our comprehension of the ultimate causes of evolution, which can only come from a better understanding of the ecological context in which evolution takes place. Advance in this area depends on the adoption of model systems that span the range of cutting-edge techniques from sequencing to manipulative ecological experiments. The three-spined stickleback provides such a system. We also do, or have done research on mammals, birds and aquatic insects. We combine observational ecology, analysis of long-term datasets, and field, lab and mesocosm experiments with quantitative and molecular genetics.

Lab news:

Andrew is on sabbatical this year, trying to learn bioinformatics!
Congratulations to Jim Whiting, who passed his viva with minor corrections.
More congratulations to Jim Whiting, who has also accepted a postdoc at the University of Sussex.
Congratulations to Isabel Magalhaes who now has a permanent position at the University of Roehampton.
Congratulations to Talib Chitheer on submitting his thesis.

Recent lab papers include:
A paper in Science on the effects of temperature and precipitation on natural selection. *Now highly cited*.
Muayad Mahmud's study of virulence variation in Gyrodactylus parasites, published in Functional Ecology.
A meta-analysis of environmental determinants of natural selection, in American Naturalist.
Shaun Robertson's paper showing an association between armour plating and immune function, in Scientific Reports.
Becca Young's paper on spatial and temporal variation in stickleback parasites.


School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, U.K.

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Funders: NERC, BBSRC, NESCent, FSBI, The Leverhulme Trust

External links:
School of Life Sciences
Behaviour and Ecology Group, Nottingham,