recent long

New philosophy of biology paper                                          May 25thpale_line

Ever wondered why there is such intense disagreement over the evolutionary significance of development, non-genetic forms of inheritance, and niche construction? If so, you may be helped by a recent analysis by Tobias and Heikki Helanterä. The paper, accepted in the premier philosophy of science journal British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, uses niche construction as a case study to demonstrate how the way we think of causality in biological systems shape the structure of evolutionary explanations.

Richard Lewontin famously described evolution by natural selection in terms of three principles: variation, differential fitness and inheritance. Read more...


Ullergroup at Varvet 2017                                                    May 22ndpale_line

gotenborgsvarvetThe group was well represented at this year’s Göteborgsvarvet, the world’s largest half marathon with over 60,000 runners. Reinder was the first to enter Slottskogsvallen, completing in an impressive 1 h 32 minutes.That is an average speed of 4.23 per km! But the achievement of the year must have been Nathalie. With 1.35.49 she not only broke her personal best by 11 minutes (!) but also finished 225th overall! A cold made Tobias’ start uncertain until the last minute, but in the end he dragged himself around the city, finishing five minutes behind Nathalie. We will be back next year – hopefully with even more group members on the starting line!


Cause and Process at the KLI                                                 May 19thpale_line

KLI_cropEvolutionary biologists and philosophers of biology recently gathered at the KLI, an international centre for advanced studies in theoretical biology, to discuss the nature of causation in evolutionary biology. The workshop, organised by Tobias and Kevin Laland, aimed to clarify how the ongoing integration of development and evolution may influence the structure of evolutionary theory and the nature of evolutionary explanations.

The classic view on causation in evolutionary biology makes a clear distinction between proximate and ultimate causes. Read more...


Quick guide to a turtle's shell                                               April 27thpale_line

TurtleAntonio gives a Quick guide to a turtle's shell in a recent issue of Current Biology. This 200 million years old innovation, he write, provides shelter from the environment, enhances thermoregulation, protects from predator attacks and even acts a rich reservoir of fats, minerals and water. From the evolutionary perspective, the shell can be seen as an anatomical innovation that has set turtles off along a unique evolutionary trajectory. Read the whole story here.


Listen to monogamous lizard family affair                           April 26thpale_line

EgerniasWhat can lizard families tell us about our own? Some mate for life and take care of their young. Geoff While speaks on Australian radio about our research on evolution of social complexity in lizards.



Indiana Yang and the origin of the Tuscans!                       April 25thpale_line

This greenguyyear marked the 6th in our quest for the evolutionary origin and introgressive spread of a sexually selected syndrome in wall lizards. It marked a return to central Italy to fill in the remaining gaps in the map tracing the origins of this phenotype. What has been revealed so far is an intricate history of isolation, evolution, and conquest through interbreeding. Read more about the background to the Italian drama and the fieldwork behind it...


Hannah MacGregor, PhD!!                                                  March 31stpale_line

As if it was not enough that Hannah's PhD assessors gave her a clean pass for her thesis on sexual selection and hybridization in wall lizards, she also received the price for Outstanding Performance from the School of Biological Sciences at UTas! Unfortunately, Hannah could not be there to receive the prize in person as she is already off for new adventures, this time learning how to catch guppies. We are not sure what she will do with the prize money, but we hear that cocktails are cheap in Trinidad...


Postdoc position available                                                     Feb 23rdpale_line

We are looking for a postdoc who wants to work on developmental bias and its evolutionary implications. More information on the position and how to apply can be found here.


What’s new in lizard social evolution?                                   Feb 22ndpale_line

Egernia_familyA series of recent papers (Halliwell et al. 2017, Halliwell et al. 2017, Botterill-James et al. 2017) show how good places to live shapes family life in Egernia lizards. Our research – headed by Geoff and his students Ben and Tom – have revealed that the distribution of crevice sites influence group size, polygyny, and the opportunity for sexual selection. This also affects the offspring, because the distribution of adults determine the costs and benefits of dispersal. Read more...


New group members!                                                              Jan 28thpale_line

We are very happy to welcome Mara Ruiz Miñano and Théo Ducos to the group. Mara is a new PhD student at the University of Tasmania, supervised by Geoff and Tobias. Mara will join our research project on the causes and consequences of hybridization in wall lizards. This means she will split her time between Lund and Tasmania, with a fair bit in between catching lizards in Italy. Théo will also be working on wall lizards for his MSc project, which continues our collaboration with Patrizia D'Ettorre at the University of Paris 13.


This View of Life                                                                      Jan 24thpale_line

Tobias is interviewed by David Sloan Wilson on This View of Life. The piece can also be read on our EES blog, together with recent posts by Massimo Pigliucci, Kim Sterelny, Armin Moczek and others.


Hannah hands in her thesis!                                                  Dec 14thpale_line

Hannah's thesis is a detailed study of the causes and consequences of sexual selection during secondary contact in wall lizards. Two of the chapters are published - in Ecology Letters and Functional Ecology - and the other two will hopefully be accepted shortly. Hannah is formally a University of Tasmania student so she cannot look forward to a public defense but we hope the two examiners will like what they read. We certainly did! Many congratulations, Hannah!


Webpage launch                                                                     Dec 13thpale_line

The Extended Evolutionary Synthesis webpage is now up and running. In addition to keeping you up to date with the research funded by our grant, the blogs, visual and audio are useful resources for those interested in the relationships between development, ecology, and evolution.

Please also check out Geoff’s and Erik’s webpage at the University of Tasmania, which has beautiful photos and information on our collaborative projects on skinks and wallies.


Alfredo Rago joins us as postdoc!                                            Nov 3rdpale_line

alfredo_ragoAs pointed out by Scott Gilbert, the environment is a “normal agent of development”. But how do organisms evolve to integrate features of the environment into their development? And how does that affect their ability to evolve further? These are some of the questions that Alfredo will address in his research, which is a close collaboration with computer scientist Richard Watson at the University of Southampton. We are very excited to have Alfredo here on what promises to be an outstanding project! Read more...


Are jumping genes driving the radiation of Anolis lizards?    Oct 13thpale_line

A new study by Nathalie Feiner brings a fresh perspective on the famous adaptive radiation of Anolis lizards. The paper, published this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, reveals that speciation events are accompanied by accumulation of DNA sequences that can copy and paste themselves within the genome. Such transposable elements (TEs), popularly referred to as jumping genes, have long been suspected to contribute to evolutionary diversification. Read more...




  • Female reproductive investment in response to male phenotype in wall lizards and its implications for introgression. Biol J Linn Soc, in press
  • Habitat saturation promotes delayed dispersal in a social reptile. Behav Ecol 2017
  • Effects of low-oxygen conditions on embryo growth in the painted turtle, Chrysemys picta. Integr Zool 2016
  • Experimental hybrid zones reveal causes and targets of sexual selection upon secondary contact. Funct Ecol 2016