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Evolutionary ecology and infection biology

We tackle questions concerning how organisms function and evolve to help us better understand the natural world.

Our research aims to understand how interactions between species and their environment, and interactions between different species, drive changes in behaviour, physiology and morphology. The ability of species to evolve is key to their survival in a rapidly changing environment. Spanning genomics, behaviour, physiology, microbiology, immunology and biomechanics, our researchers study functional and evolutionary change in birds, mammals, invertebrates, plants and microbes. Research covers all levels of biological organisation including the whole organism, cell, genome and epigenome.

Two people sitting with binoculars. Photo.
Students learn techniques for observing, identifying and studying birds during a field excursion. Photo: Håkan Röjder.

Evolutionary genomics and molecular ecology

How do organisms adapt to their local environment? How do populations differentiate and new species form? Why do we age and what constrains evolution? Our research aims to understand the genomic and phenomic foundations of adaptive processes across various ecological contexts, life-history stages and between the sexes. We seek to decode the genetic mechanisms of adaptation to uncover how organisms optimise their annual breeding cycle, including their migration, breeding and overall fitness, in a changing world. We study genomic conflicts and constraints to understand why organisms age, how sexual dimorphism evolves and the origin of species. Additionally, we are broadly interested in how biodiversity is generated and how best to conserve species diversity.

More about evolutionary genomics and molecular ecology in Lund University Research Portal

Movement ecology

What factors shape animal movement and dispersal at local and global scales? Movement is a fundamental aspect of life on Earth and has wide-ranging consequences for individuals, populations and ecosystems. Many animals use long-distance movements to cope with the changing of the seasons, and they can cover huge distances during annual migrations. Our research seeks to understand the processes involved in animal movement and migration and how movements are shaped and limited by various factors. We focus on fundamental aspects of movement, such as the aerodynamics of animal flight, the mechanisms of animal navigation and adaptations to a migratory lifestyle. In addition, we study migratory processes including the genetics and evolution of migration and how movement affects populations and contributes to the spread of diseases. All of these questions are investigated in the context of a rapidly changing world.

More about movement ecology in Lund University Research Portal

Two people with an owl. Photo.
Researchers remove a GPS logger from a tawny owl revealing information about movements and habitat use and how that might affect exposure to rat poison. Photo: Kennet Ruona.

Coping with environmental change

How do animals cope with and adapt to the challenges associated with environmental change? Our research seeks to understand how a warming climate, rapid urbanisation and human activities affect animals, with a focus on changes in animal physiology and behaviour. We study the capacity for animals to regulate their body temperature during a heatwave, upregulate antioxidant levels to combat urban pollution and acquire tolerance to fight the increasing risk of infections that animals face in our rapidly changing world. We also study whether certain behaviours or personality traits, such as aggression or memory, might help animals cope with challenging environments. Changes in metabolic rate, antioxidant levels, hormones and immune responses will affect whether animals invest more effort in reproduction or focus on self-maintenance and survival. Understanding the balance between these competing activities – so-called life-history trade-offs – is at the core of our research.

More about coping with environmental change in Lund University Research Portal

Infection biology - the evolution of microbial virulence and host immunity

Infection may be viewed as an evolutionary pressure cooker that can be exploited to gain fundamental insights into a wide range of biological questions. We study host-pathogen interactions from ecological, evolutionary and functional perspectives. We are particularly interested in the evolution of the vertebrate immune system and microbial virulence strategies, and in understanding how host-pathogen interactions affect the inflammatory response and disease outcome. To this end, we employ molecular biology methods, infection models and ecological approaches. This collaborative and dynamic research environment consists of independent groups focusing on immunogenetics and streptococcal, mycobacterial and malaria infections.

More about infection biology in Lund University Research Portal

Immunogenetics and Infection Biology
Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab ( 

A microscope photo with red background and green rods. Photo.
Macrophages infected with Mycobacterium marinum (GFP; green), which exploits the host cell cytoskeleton (actin; red) to spread between cells.