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Erik Svensson


Research Interests and Research Profile

Research in my lab has four main themes: (1) Phenotypic evolution; particularly natural and sexual selection in the wild, (2) evolutionary dynamics, ecology, behaviour and genetic architecture of phenotypic polymorphisms, such as colour polymorphisms, (3) the ecology and evolution of color signaling and how natural and sexual selection operates on animal colouration, and (4) the evolution of phenotypic plasticity, particularly thermal plasticity and learning.

In my lab, we explore these four themes using a variety of different analytical and experimental approaches. Our methods include field and laboratory experiments, evolutionary quantitative genetics, measurements of selection in the wild and molecular, genomic and transcriptomic tools such as Next-generation DNA and RNA-sequencing. We are increasingly using phylogenetic comparative methods and we do also develop theory and use modelling tools. Our lab is theory-oriented and our research aims to answer basic and fundamental questions in ecology, evolution and behavior. However, we do rely on our strong tradition of field experimentation in natural populations. My main research organisms these days are odonates (“dragonflies and damselflies”), although I do also work with and have performed research on other organisms, including birds (passerines, ostriches), crustaceans (freshwater isopods), fruitflies (Drosophila melanogaster) and reptiles (lizards).

Although I am originally trained as an empirical population biologist and experimental evolutionary ecologist, I am also interested in general evolutionary theory. I consider myself partly rooted in the research traditions of population genetics, ecology and systematics, and I am increasingly using phylogenetic comparative methods in my research. I have also used various theoretical approaches and modelling techniques, such as population genetic and individual-based simulation models. See my publication list below for further information. I am mainly interested in the interface between ecology and genetics and evolutionary processes rather than outcomes. I therefore prefer to use explicit genetic models in my research, rather than phenotypic models such as game theory, adaptive dynamics and optimization models.


Publication and Citation Information

Google Scholar Profile


ISI Researcher ID


Honors, Awards and Service to Scientific Societies 

  • Tage Erlanders Prize for Research in Natural Sciences, Royal Swedish Academy of Science, 2004
  • Elected to Council, European Society for Evolutionary Biology,  2011-2015
  • Panel Member, Ecology, Evolution & Systematics (Swedish Research Council), 2011-2015
  • Member of National Biology Committee, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, 2014-
  • Elected fellow of the Royal Physiographic Society (Lund), 2015-


Editorial Work 

  • Founding Editorial Board, Oxford Bibliographies in Evolutionary Biology, 2014-
  • Associate Editor, American Naturalist, 2008-
  • Associate Editor, Evolution, 2010–2013
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 2004-2008
  • Editorial Board, PLOS ONE, 2006-2009
  • Editorial Board, Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B., 2003-2008


Selected Publications 

1. Le Rouzic, A., T.F. Hansen, T.P. Gosden and E.I. Svensson. 2015. Evolutionary time-series analysis reveals the signature of frequency-dependent selection on a female mating polymorphism.  American Naturalist 185: E182-E196. Link

2. Gosden, T.P., J.T. Waller and E.I. Svensson. 2015. Asymmetric isolating barriers between different microclimatic environments caused by low immigrant survival. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. 282: doi: 10.1098/rspb.2015.2459 Link  

3. Svensson, E.I., A. Runemark, M.N. Verzijden and M. Wellenreuther. 2014. Sex differences in developmental plasticity and canalization shape population divergence in mate preferences. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. 281: doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1636 Link

4. Takahashi, Y., K. Kagawa, E.I. Svensson and M. Kawata. 2014. Evolution of increased phenotypic diversity enhances population performance by reducing sexual harassment in damselflies. Nature Communications 5: doi: 10.1038/ncomms5468 Link

5. Katayama, N., J.K. Abbott, J. Kjaerandsen, Y. Takahashi and E.I. Svensson. 2014. Sexual selection on wing interference patterns in Drosophila melanogaster. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111: 15144-15148 Link  

6. Svensson, E.I. and J.T. Waller. 2013. Ecology and sexual selection: evolution of wing pigmentation in calopterygid damselflies in relation to latitude, sexual dimorphism and speciation. American Naturalist 182: E174-E195 Link

7. Svensson, E.I. and R. Calsbeek (Editors). 2012. The Adaptive Landscape in Evolutionary Biology. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Link

8. Runemark, A., J. Hey, B. Hansson and E.I. Svensson. 2012. Vicariance divergence and gene flow among islet populations of an endemic lizard. Molecular Ecology 21: 117-129. Link   

9.  Eroukhmanoff, F., A. Hargeby and E.I. Svensson. 2011. The role of different reproductive barriers during phenotypic divergence of isopod ecotypes. Evolution 65: 2631-2640. Link

10. Svensson, E.I. and L. Råberg. 2010. Resistance and tolerance in animal enemy-victim coevolution. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 25: 267-274. Link

11. Svensson, E.I., F. Eroukhmanoff, K. Karlsson, A. Runemark and A. Brodin. 2010. A role for learning in population divergence of mate preferences. Evolution 64: 3101-3113. Link

12. Gosden, T.P. and E.I. Svensson. 2009. Density-dependent male mating harassment, female resistance and male mimicry. American Naturalist 173: 709-721. Link

13. Gosden, T.P. and E.I. Svensson. 2008. Spatial and temporal dynamics in a sexual selection mosaic. Evolution 62: 845-856. Link

14. Svensson, E.I., K. Karlsson, M. Friberg and F. Eroukhmanoff. 2007. Gender differences in species recognition and the evolution of asymmetric sexual isolation. Current Biology 17: 1943-1947. Link

15. Svensson, E.I. and M. Friberg. 2007. Selective predation on wing morphology in sympatric damselflies. American Naturalist 170: 101-112. Link

16. Svensson, E.I., F. Eroukhmanoff and M. Friberg. 2006. Effects of natural and sexual selection on adaptive population divergence and premating isolation in a damselfly. Evolution 60: 1242-1253. Link

17. Svensson, E.I., J. Abbott and R. Härdling. 2005. Female polymorphism, frequency dependence and rapid evoutionary dynamics in natural populations. American Naturalist 165: 567-576. Link

18. Svensson, E, Sinervo, B. and T. Comendant. 2001. Density-dependent competition and selection on immune function in genetic lizard morphs. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 98: 12561-12565. Link

19. Svensson, E. and Sinervo, B. 2000. Experimental excursions on adaptive landscapes: density-dependent selection on egg size. Evolution 54: 1396-1403. Link

20. Sinervo, B., E. Svensson and T. Comendant. 2000. Density cycles and an offspring quantity and quality game driven by natural selection. Nature 406: 985-988. Link

Page Manager:
Erik Svensson
E-mail: erik [dot] svensson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Evolutionary ecology

+46 46 222 38 19