Aoife Leonard

Nationality: Irish
Phone: +447784140187
Mailing address: Zoology Building, Tillydrone Ave, University of Aberdeen, AB24 2TZ, UK
Start and end of PhD: September 2015 – September 2019

PhD title: Niche Evolution under climate change

Supervisors: Lesley Lancaster (University of Aberdeen), Mike Ritchie (University of St. Andrews), and Jorgen Ripa (Lund University)

Link to research group

Keywords: Emerging pests, global crop pests, host shifts, genetic variation, adaptation trajectory, evolvability, experimental evolution, quasi-natural selection, heritability

Description of research:
Many organisms are responding to climate change through a process called niche evolution, whereby they evolve rapidly and quickly disperse into available niches, often posing new threats to food security (as crop or stored-food pests), human and animal welfare (as disease vectors), and affecting overall ecosystem function. The mechanisms of this process remain poorly understood. I investigate how shifts in a species’ resource use traits and climate tolerances contribute to niche evolution. This study employs experimental evolution in the seed beetle, Callosobruchus maculatus, a major pest on stored legumes and grains worldwide. We aim to identify the constraints and consequences of these rapid evolutionary changes.

Teaching: Ocean Biology, Diversity of Life, and Introduction to Biology