Dr Sonya Clegg

Associate Professor of Evolutionary Ecology


I am an evolutionary ecologist interested in the processes that generate, maintain and erode biological variation from the level of the gene to the species. I use a range of approaches, combining empirical data with modelling to describe and understand the mechanisms that can produce divergence.

I am particularly interested in how various microevolutionary processes, such as selection and drift, interact, and how particular selective landscapes can produce emergent macroecological patterns. One of these is the island syndrome – a suite of phenotypic, genetic, and life-history changes that commonly occur in island-dwelling forms. I investigate the island syndrome using birds, including studies that explore individual variation (genetics, morphology, behaviour) within single island bird populations, to global phenotypic patterns across the bird phylogeny. I have focused on the effects of drift in small founded populations, as well as multiple selective pressures that vary systematically from mainland to island environments, including changing biotic interactions such as competition, predation, and disease.