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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences

Extended Evolutionary Biology

Evolution is a topic that connects together fundamental scientific questions about how living systems from microbes to humans to ecosystems change over time, and how they are resilient and able to cope with stresses.  These fundamental questions have many high impact applications such as development treatments for infection, cancer and obesity, as well as protecting biodiversity and securing crop production from climate change and pest attack.

There are exciting developments in current evolutionary biology that challenge conventional assumptions.  These include the role of epigenetic inheritance, the role of phenotype plasticity and short-term adaption and its potential to lead genetic evolution, and how natural selection changes its own ability to evolve over-time. 

Understanding these complexities requires work that cuts across conventional disciplinary boundaries to develop new theoretical frameworks.  Southampton has the expertise to achieve this.

 

Mu-Vis Suite
Dr Neil Gostling and Katy Williams
Image credit: Dr Neil Gostling
Image credit: Dr Neil Gostling

Key Publications

Dr Thomas Ezard, NERC Advanced Fellow, Associate Professor in Evolutionary Ecology in Ocean and Earth Science (OES) is leading interdisciplinary research providing the first evidence about whether a lifetime of flexibility, or a stubborn refusal to change influences the emergence of new species.  The team of colleagues in OES, Electronics & Computer Science, and Engineering, alongside collaborators from the Universities of Bristol, Leeds and UCL.

The team is exploring the fossil record of single celled organisms called planktonic foraminifera at unprecedented resolution using imaging technology within the mu-vis X-Ray Imaging Centre.  Their goal is to investigate for the first time if certain parts of an individual's journey through life are more influential than others in determining the eventual evolutionary destination of its species.

State of the art imaging technology has sparked a digital revolution in how biologists study life on Earth.  By bringing together lessons from diverse scientific disciplines, we aim to answer one of the most fundamental of all biological questions - how do differences among individuals make differences among species.

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