About Us

Phylo! Eco! Geo! Evo! Journal Club!

We’re phylogeneticists / ecologists / geographers / evolutionary biologists who ask questions that cut across all four of these fields. This blog is a place for us to talk about papers we’ve read that we feel are of general interest to like-minded people. We want this to be a sort of journal club – read what we’ve written (…maybe read the paper too…) and then join the discussion. So – comment on the blog, send us Tweets… whatever. Occasionally, we have guests who will also write articles – if you’d like to be one, get in touch!

Yes, we’re aware the title’s a bit long. Sorry about that. Say it like “Peggy” and it’s funnier…

Who are we?

Lynsey McInnes

Lynsey McInnesI’m interested in explaining how broad-scale patterns of biodiversity are generated and maintained. I’ve recently become increasingly interested in understanding the population level processes that underpin these macro-scale patterns. I’m a postdoc with Graham Stone and Konrad Lohse at University of Edinburgh investigating how to use population genomics to understand community assembly. Before that I did a postdoc in the Savolainen Lab and my PhD in the Purvis/Orme Labs, all at Imperial College London. I’ve made a website to document my transition from macro- to population-level biologist, check it out here, or check out my Twitter.

Will Pearse

will_stone_arch_headI’m interested in the phylogenetic structure of ecological communities. Currently, I am working with Jonathan Davies and Pedro Peres-Neto at McGill Univeristy, and before that I was in the Cavender-Bares lab (University of Minnesota) and a PhD student in the Purvis Lab (Imperial College London). I love playing around with new methods, and I wrote phyloGenerator to try and make it easier for ecologists to create phylogenies for themselves. You can contact me on my website or through Twitter.

Guest Posters!

Eilidh McNab

BirdringingphotoI’m a postgraduate researcher at the University of Stirling, with the RSPB as my NERC project CASE partner.  My main interests are in ornithology; my project looks at the impacts of new native woodland creation in the Scottish uplands on the bird assemblages that are found there, and how communities change as woodlands mature.

Zarah Pattison

zarahZarah’s research interests are broadly in freshwater ecology, particularly invasive species and pollution dynamics. She is interested in responses of invasive alien plants tochanges in climate and how this may indirectly impact native communities and competitive interactions. She is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher on the Hydroscape project to address questions relating to connectivity and stress in freshwater lochs & lakes and how this affects the presence/abundance of faecal indicator organisms (for example E. coli) in these systems.

John Wilson

pictureofmeI have long been interested in how people interact with nature. Where they go, what they do there, and mostly how they perceive their interactions with other species. At present, I am directing this interest towards gaining a PhD by investigating the effects of tourism on Norway’s wild reindeer population, at the University of Stirling in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute of Nature (NINA). My research is model based, and crosses boundaries between ecology, conservation and social science. Using tourist responses to questionnaires and reindeer tracking data I hope to use people’s choices, based on their perception of themselves and the environment, to analyse the spatial interactions between tourists and reindeer.

Isabel Jones

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m interested in the impacts of large-scale industry on biodiversity, currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Stirling, investigating the biodiversity and carbon impacts of hydroelectric megadams in the Brazilian Amazon. I am supervised by Dr. Daisy Dent (Stirling) and Professor Carlos Peres (UEA). Previously I have quantified the ecological impacts of the oil and gas industry on the Ustyurt Plateau, Uzbekistan, which was part of my MRes. at Imperial College London in the Suttle and Milner-Gulland groups. I tend to do a hefty amount of fieldwork and focus on the distribution of plants and trees to answer my questions, but hope to branch out (terrible pun alert) and start using remote sensing, investigate soil carbon a bit more, and climb some trees to look at epiphytes. You can find me on Twitter if you want to get in touch..

Regan Early

reganI’m a post-doctoral research in the Cátedra Rui Nabeiro at the University of Évora in Portugal, and I also hang out a lot at the Natural History Museum in Madrid. The unifying theme of my research is to use patterns in species distributions to understand ecological processes – such as climate tolerances, range shifts, biotic interactions, population dynamics and the timing of life history events (phenology). This means I work at large scales, using models to study hundreds of species across countries and continents. I actively use this research to inform conservation policy in our changing world, evaluating the effectiveness of current and proposed conservation strategies. You can also check out my website at http://reganearly.wordpress.com.

Jennie Garbutt

DSC03263_Jennie1I’m interested in the processes that govern the outcome of host-parasite interactions. My current research (as a postdoc in the group of Tom Little at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology/University of Edinburgh) focuses on how variation in the maternal environment affects offspring disease resistance. I have become particularly interested in how changes in life history can affect disease risk. My PhD (at the University of Bath) centred on understanding how different invertebrates vary in their response to RNAi. In general, I love experimental biology and working with invertebrates. You can contact me via Linkedin or Twitter.

Jun Lim

Jun LimI am a first-year PhD student at University of California, Berkeley, co-advised by Rosemary Gillespie and Charles Marshall. My interests focus mainly on disentangling the relative role of various processes on the way ecological communities assemble, in particular, developing ways to try to incorporate diversification dynamics, evolutionary history, ecological networks, patterns of trait evolution into our understanding of such processes. Some of my previous work as an undergraduate and Master student at Imperial College London has revolved around understanding how phylogenetic diversity interacts with spatial scale, and applying those insights to understanding community phylogenetic patterns of British grassland communities and the phylogenetic patterns of invasive species in the British flora. I am also currently involved in a citizen-science project (which is really cool!) focused on digitising, transcribing and managing museum specimen label information from the Essig Museum of Entomology in UC Berkeley, as well as many other collections in California.

Martina Di Fonzo

martinaI am a postdoc at the the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions at the University of Queensland, which I joined in October 2012 following my PhD at Imperial College London and the Institute of Zoology. I am working principally with Hugh Possingham, Jonathan Rhodes and a group of postdocs here to develop prioritisation approaches that can be used to aid conservation decision-making under budget limitations, which unfortunately constrain our ability to protect everything everywhere. In my PhD, I analysed patterns of mammalian population declines with the aim of identifying how decline-curve shape can inform predictions of species-level extinction risk. I worked on this under the supervision of Georgina Mace and Ben Collen. Please click here for further information about my work, and click here for information about my papers.

Matt Burgess

My bromatt_burgessad interest is in combining ecological and economic theory, data, and analyses to study policy-relevant questions at the human-environment nexus. I have a bit of an idiosyncratic academic background, having started my undergrad originally in economics, then switched to ecology, and then ending up taking most of the courses from the Applied Economics PhD program while doing a PhD in ecology. I am currently in my last year of my PhD at the University of Minnesota, co-advised by Dave Tilman and Steve Polasky. My thesis focuses on bridging the gap between theory and empirical research guiding fisheries management, and I have worked on a few side projects looking at broader issues in food security. More information on my projects can be found here. I originally hail from Montreal, Canada, and enjoy playing golf, basketball, hockey (of course), and music when not in the lab.

Sarah Whitmee

sarah_whitmeeI’m a postdoc, currently working for IUCN, UCL and the Institute of Zoology, ZSL. My work helps to measure the effectiveness of both terrestrial and marine protected areas in a number of different analyses, all of which use change in population abundance as a proxy for protected area performance. My PhD centered around dispersal ability in mammals and its relationship to patterns of ‘range filling’, a short hand term for describing the degree of correlation between a species observed range and areas thought to be climatically suitable. Apart from conservation and macroecology I like walking my dogs, drinking wine and eating cheese, preferably all at the same time. You can read more about my current and past work here or follow my sporadic tweets here.

Haris Saslis-Lagoudakis

HarisSL picMy research focuses on evolutionary patterns of biodiversity utilisation and distribution. In the past, I have investigated phylogenetic patterns in ethnobotany and modes of transmission of traditional medicinal knowledge among human communities. I have also done research on the historical biogeography, niche evolution and diversification of plants in tropical and Mediterranean-type regions. Currently, I am working on disentangling the evolution of salt tolerance in plants, a complex trait that has arisen several times during plant evolution. Please have a look at my website.

Yael Kisel

Yael KiselLike Lynsey, I’m interested in the processes that create broad-scale patterns of biodiversity; unlike her, I really like plants. I also like comparing plants and animals, though. Right now I’m an Alexander von Humboldt postdoc fellow, working with Holger Kreft and his great macroecology group in Göttingen, Germany. Before coming here, I lived in Slovenia for a while and applied to things, and before that I did my PhD with Tim Barraclough at Silwood Park, Imperial College London. My current more specific research interests are island biogeography, dispersal, comparative population genetics, and “loser” clades with very few species. You can read some more about my work here and find copies of my papers here and PhD thesis here.

Jenna Morgan Lang

Jenna Morgan LangDr. Jenna Lang is a Project Scientist in Jonathan Eisen’s lab at UC Davis. She obtained her Bachelors in Biology from the University of New Orleans in 1995, her Masters from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2001, where she worked with Paul Chippindale on damselfly phylogenetics using caveman techniques. She then took a break from academia to work at the DOE Joint Genome Institute, first on the Human Genome Project, and later on microbial comparative genomics. She completed her PhD in Microbiology in 2012, and loved working in the Eisen lab so much that she intends to stick around. Her magnum opus is here, and you can see what she’s up to these days here. For fun, she likes to play poker, at the Bellagio, in her wedding dress.

Mark Ramsden

jan_schnitzler-bwI’m currently working on how we can help boost the impact of natural enemies of pest insects in agriculture. Many predatory insect need a greater range of resources than crops provide, such as winter habitat, but these are often in short supply in agricultural landscapes. My PhD at Lancaster University focuses on comparing these additional resources for natural enemies, and I am also interested in how this ecosystems service can be provided alongside other services. Please look at my website.

Laura Vickers

jan_schnitzler-bwI’m a postdoc at Harper Adams University currently looking at deficit irrigation in crops, having completed a PhD at the University of Birmingham on aphids and their response to drought stress. Contact me on Twitter.

Aaron David

jan_schnitzler-bwI am broadly interested in community assembly of microbial symbionts. My work focuses on understanding the patterns and causes of assembly of fungal endophytes — fungi living asymptomatically within plant tissues — in coastal dune grasses in Oregon, Washington, and Michigan. Please look at my web page.

Jan Schnitzler

jan_schnitzler-bwIn general, I am interested in understanding the processes that promote and maintain species diversity on regional to global scales. After my PhD at Kew Gardens and Imperial College, where I studied the diversification of the Cape flora (South Africa), I moved to Frankfurt for a Postdoc at the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre where my research focus has mainly been on the impact of environmental changes on biodiversity. In addition, I have recently started to develop new tools for the evaluation of diversification dynamics utilizing both phylogenetic and fossil information, aiming at a better integration of biological and geological sciences. Please look at my web page.

Tim Astrop

Tim AstropI’m a final-year PhD candidate in the Integrated Bioscience program at the University of Akron studying the evolutionary dynamics of sexual systems and the origination and maintenance of unisexuality in deep time using little crustaceans called clam shrimp. I am in love invertebrate systematics, morphometric methods, biological interactions in the fossil record and arthropod palaeobiology. I’m always on the lookout for a chance to shout about integrating biology & palaeontology to anyone willing to listen. Please look at my web page.

Chris Trisos

Chris TrisosI’m just generally keen on exploring the processes structuring the distribution and abundance of species and how these in turn influence biodiversity patterns. I’m currently completing my PhD in the Seddon and Tobias lab at Oxford, using phylogenetic and trait-based methods in asking how important species interactions and abiotic conditions are in structuring neotropical bird communities at varying spatial scales. Please look at my web page.

April Wright

April WrightI’m interested in best practices for phylogenetic inferences. I have a particular soft spot for fossil data and the challenges inherent in its use, such as structured missing data. Presently, I’m working on my PhD in the Hillis Lab at the University of Texas at Austin. In my spare time, I enjoy teaching programming to biologists. You can get a hold of me via my Twitter or my e-mail (wright.aprilm [at] utexas [dot] edu) and see my first post right here.

Zarah’s research interests are broadly in freshwater ecology, particularly invasive species and pollution dynamics. She is interested in responses of invasive alien plants to changes in climate and how this may indirectly impact native communities and competitive interactions. She is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher on the Hydroscape project to address questions relating to connectivity and stress in freshwater lochs & lakes and how this affects the presence/abundance of faecal indicator organisms (for example E. coli) in these systems.

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One Response to About Us

  1. Pingback: Phylogenetic approaches for studying diversification | PEGE Journal Club

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