This is the web site for Dolph Schluter’s lab at the University of British Columbia

Principally, my lab studies recent adaptive radiation — the evolution of ecological diversity in groups of organisms that are multiplying rapidly. We investigate the ecological forces that drive the rapid origin of new species and allow them to persist, the genetic and genomic basis of species differences, and the wider ecological impacts of adaptive radiation. We carry out field experimental studies of natural selection on genes and phenotypes, observational studies on the role of natural and sexual selection in the evolution of reproductive isolation, experiments on interactions between species and their ecological and evolutionary consequences, genetic studies of adaptive differentiation, and comparative genomic studies of populations in different environments. At a larger scale we also investigate the evolution of major biodiversity gradients.

My earliest work was carried out on Darwin’s famous finches in the Galápagos Islands. Subsequently I worked on finches and other small seed-eating birds of continental regions of Africa and North America. More recently, I and many in my lab have been working on a mini-explosion of new species of threespine sticklebacks in lakes of coastal British Columbia, Canada. Lab members have also worked on speciation gradients in birds and mammals, range size evolution in primates, ecological speciation in stick insects, mimicry in reef fish and butterflies, and signaling system evolution in electric fishes.

Our research on sticklebacks has had three main directions. The first concerns the origin and persistence of species, especially the role of ecological selection in the buildup of mating incompatibilities between populations exploiting different environments. This work involves comparative studies of mating behavior between populations and experimental studies of selection in hybrids The second direction is the role of interactions (competition and predation) in the evolution of differences between species. Our work in this area includes experiments in ponds in which we measure how natural selection on a species is changed when another species (e.g., a competitor) is added to its environment. Recent experiments have also investigated the wider ecosystem consequences of stickleback diversification. The third area, in collaboration with David Kingsley at Stanford University, Katie Peichel at the University of Bern, and Felicity Jones at the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen, investigates the genetic and genomic basis of species differences.

The question of species persistence has lately taken on a new urgency, with the rapid rate at which the stickleback species pairs are becoming extinct. Part of our work is dedicated to understanding why this is occurring, and what can be done to forestall doom for the species pairs that remain.


Phone: (604) 822-2387

Find Dolph

Room 218 Beaty Biodiversity Centre
(behind the Beaty Biodiversity Museum)
Google map

Mailing address

Biodiversity Research Centre and Zoology Department
University of British Columbia
6270 University Blvd.
Vancouver BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada

Shipping address

Shipping and Receiving
Departments of Botany and Zoology
University of BC
Rm 1015A (Behind UBC Bookstore)
6270 University Blvd
Vancouver BC, V6T 1Z4

shiprec ‘at’ botany ‘dot’ ubc ‘dot’ ca

© 2009-2024 Dolph Schluter