Dr Andrew MacColl

Research Interests

I am interested in natural selection, variation and microevolution in natural populations. See my personal pages for more details.

How does natural selection shape and maintain variation in natural populations? Traditionally evolutionary biology has failed to make explicit the paramount importance of ecology in directing the evolution of organisms. Evolutionary biologists have established, or accepted, that the process of natural selection has occurred without identifying its ecological causes. This may be because they have been more interested in outcome and pattern and less in mechanism and process.

In my research I attempt to identify the environmental factors and species interactions that have been most important in shaping the biodiversity that surrounds us. In doing so I hope to reunite the dislocated perspectives of evolutionists and ecologists.

At present my research focuses on using replicated adaptive radiations of three-spined sticklebacks to try to understand the ways in which ecology and the environment shape patterns of evolutionary diversification between populations.

A second major strand of my reserach considers how parasites shape the genotype, phenotype and distribution of their hosts. I am particularly interested in: (i) how variation in parasite communities can cause divergence in immunological, life history and mate choice traits between host populations that might lead to host speciation. (ii) The modifying effect of parasitism on the outcome of other kinds of ecological interactions (competition and predation). (iii) Host-parasite interactions in biological invasions.

I am also interested in applying ecological research to conservation problems, especially in wild bird populations.

Research staff

You can find details of my students and other members of my research group on my personal website.

Isabel Santos Magalhaes is a postdoc working with me on a NERC funded project "Multivariate evolution in replicated adaptive radiations".

Daniele D'Agostino is the research technician working on "Multivariate evolution in replicated adaptive radiations".

Current Students

Shaun Robertson is trying to understand the mechanistic basis of parasite resistance in stickleback.

Muayad Mahmud is studying the ecological causes of variation in virulence.

Abdul Rahman is studying the evolutionary ecology of life history strategies.

Talib Chitheer is studying ecoevolutionary dynamics in Scottish freshwater lochs.

Chris Heward, based mainly at the GWCT, is studying the conservation of Eurasian woodcock.

Becca Young is doing an MRes on parasite interactions.

Jim Whiting has recently started his PhD on the evolutionary consequences of variation in parasite resistance.

Former Students

Job de Roij, PhD student, 2006-2010.

Finn Stewart, PhD student, 2006-2010.

Paulo Wilfred, PhD student, 2008-2012.

Aliya El Nagar, PhD student, 2009-2013.

Ben Coleman, MRes student, 2006-2007.

Marielle Watkins, MRes student, 2010-2011.

Visit my personal webpage

Visit my official University webpage