Aliya El Nagar

BSc (Hons) Animal Biology
MRes Marine Biology

PhD Research Interests

One of the most fascinating areas of evolution is ecological speciation which is driven by divergent natural selection caused by ecological variables.

My PhD’s main focus is to explore the influence of parasites in ecological speciation. Parasites and pathogens are a strong selective force on two levels: they directly affect survival and they can play a role in sexual selection. This means that parasites may have marked potential to drive the evolution of ‘magic traits’.

Speciation begins with the isolation and diversification of populations. I am looking at differences between populations of three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus in the island of North Uist, outer Hebrides, Scotland. This island hosts highly diverse sympatric and allopatric demes in lochs only circa 10,000 years old. These come with different habitats, environmental variables, and parasites. Using a combination of field observations, experiments, phenotype and genotype data of both functional and neutral genes, together with line cross analysis of resistance traits, the influence of parasite-mediated selection on stickleback populations will become clearer.

Stickleback infected with Dermocystidium

North Uist


 El Nagar, A., McHugh, M., Rapp, T., Sims, D.W., Genner, M.J. (2010) Characterisation of polymorphic microsatellite markers for skates (Elasmobranchii: Rajidae) from expressed sequence tags. Conservation Genetics, 11 (3), pp. 1203-1206.

El Nagar, A., Huys R., Bishop J.D.D. (2010) Widespread occurrence of the Southern Hemisphere ascidian Corella eumyota Traustedt, 1882 on the Atlantic coast of Iberia. Aquatic Invasions 5, 169-173. 

Griffiths, A.M., Sims, D.W., Cotterell, S.P., El Nagar, A., Ellis, J.R., Lynghammar, A., McHugh, M., Neat, F.C., Pade, N.G., Queiroz, N., Serra-Pereira, B., Rapp, T., Wearmouth, V.J., Genner, (2010) M.J. Molecular markers reveal spatially segregated cryptic species in a critically endangered fish, the common skate (Dipturus batis) Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277 (1687), 1497-1503.

Highfield, A.C., El Nagar, A., Mackinder, L.C.M., NoŽl, L.M.-L.J., Hall, M.J., Martin, S.J., Schroeder, D.C. (2009) Deformed wing virus implicated in overwintering honeybee colony losses. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 75 (22), 7212-7220.


You may also be interested in my supervisor's research page:

Dr Andrew MacColl icon