Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics Research
I am an evolutionary biologist interested in understanding how phenotypic and genetic variation is generated, maintained or eroded through biological evolution. I am particularly interested in the effects of evolutionary mechanisms involved in the colonization of new habitats - whether contemporary (e.g. biological invasions) or historical (e.g. post-glaciation colonization) - on the levels of genetic variation in natural populations. My current research project seeks to understand the effects of effective population size (Ne) on different aspects of quantitative genetic variability in natural populations. Specifically, I aim to understand how historical dynamics of Ne have influenced additive and dominance genetic variance levels as well as mutation loads in the nine-spined sticklebacks (Pungitius pungitius). The repeated colonization of freshwater habitats by P. pungitius from large-sized marine populations resulted in the establishment of landlocked small populations, which provide an opportune model to study the role of selection, drift and mutation between populations with markedly different Ne.
My areas of research cover population and quantitative genetics, geometric morphometrics and experimental biology
I am an evolutionary ecologist primarily interested in how animals response to climate change, by using long-term individual based field data. I am mainly working on two passerine species: the hair-crested drongo (Dicrurus hottentottus) in central China and the superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) in southeast Australia. For both species, I test how climate influence breeding phenology and reproductive success, how climate affect individual mortality, and whether climate change contribute to the population decline and through which vital rate. For my own drongo project, I also test why the morphological trait (tarsus length) increased dramatically across the last decade. By using genome-wide association analysis, I aim to identify the relevant genes that causing the variations of tarsus length between individuals, and to examine whether the relevant gene of tarsus length is changing across years. Interested PhD students and postdocs are welcome to get in touch to discuss the research opportunities.