Research in the lab centres on species interactions in an evolutionary and ecological context. Our goal is to address fundamental questions about how genetics, physiology, behaviour and life history influence the distribution, interaction among and abundance of organisms.

  • We work on predator-prey interactions and predator induced phenotypic plasticity. This involves morphological defences in daphnia and colony/flocculation defences in algae.
  • We work on food web biology and the theory of complexity and connectance, tying species interactions back to foraging biology.
  • We work on parrots, linking their demography to socioeconomic constraints and trade-offs that influence their management as endangered species.
Funding sources include NERC, BBSRC, Microsoft Research, The British Ecological Society, The Royal Society, The EU Marie Curie Programme, The Nuffield Foundation, and The University of Sheffield.

:: The genetics and physiology of phenotypic plasticity ::
This work aims to examine the genetic, genomic and endocrine basis of predator induced phenotypic plasticity. The research is divided into three main activities:
  1. Using several ‘omics technologies, we are investigating the mechanistic basis of predator induced changes in life history and morphology (Becker, PDRA). We are also exploring digestive enzyme regulated effects of multiple metals (copper and cadmium; Sadeq, PhD) with continued interest in endocrine disrupters and disease as well.
  2. Using next generation Pool-Seq sequencing and various analyses, we work with Alan Bergland at Stanford to investigate the genomic architecture that underpins morphological and life historical adaptation to variable predator regimes in a network of ponds across the UK.
  3. Working with Matt Robinson, we developed integrated statistical tools to analyse, compare and visualise plasticity, local adaptation and selection.
This work is supported the Daphnia Genomics Consortium

:: Algae Defences - natural cues and engineering ::
With Jags Pandhal in Chemical and Biological Engineering, we work to explore the ecological opportunities for solving engineering problems, including eutrophication and algae based products including biofuels and nutraceuticals. Currently, PhD student Nella Roccuzzo is exploring how colony formation and algae defences can be triggered by natural cues from algae predators, daphnia, which are normally considered pests in raceway ponds and algae production facilities.

:: Conservation Biology of Amazon Parrots ::
In cooperation with the World Parrot Trust (CASE partner; Dr. Jamie Gilardi), PhD student Tamora James is building models of the Yellow Shouldered Amazon Parrot Amazona barbadensis demography to assess not only extinction risk and habitat issues, but develop it into a bio-economic model for conservation decision making.

:: Optimal foraging theory and food web structure ::
In collaboration with Phil Warren at Sheffield and Owen Petchey in Zurich, we explore the role that optimal foraging theory can play in predicting pattern and process in food webs. We ask fundamental questions such as what determines connectance (the number of interactions) and structure in a food webs and how can optimal foraging predict the dynamic consequences of species invasions and extinctions in a food web.

:: Glaciology and Climate Change ::
Andrew is working with Sebastian Mernild on several glaciology projects, using empirical orthogonal function analyses to summarise mass balance changes over long periods of time and large spatial areas, including glaciers in South America and Greenland