Simon Evans

Table of contents

Research Interests

My previous work used plumage coloration as a route to understanding the eco-evolutionary forces governing ornament expression. This research was based on long-term study populations of great tits (Oxford, UK) and collared flycatchers (Gotland, Sweden). All individuals in these nestbox-breeding populations are uniquely marked, allowing individuals to be monitored throughout their lives and pedigrees to be constructed that describe the relatedness structure within each population. By combining phenotypic and relatedness information, it is possible to estimate quantitative genetic parameters (e.g., heritability).

My current research makes use of archived church records for the Swiss canton of Glarus that were collated by Dr Erik Postma. These records describe births, weddings and deaths, allowing us to reconstruct both individual life-histories and a population pedigree. Based on this information, we can apply quantitative genetic analyses to quantify the variation in reproductive success and lifespan within a human population, examine how this can be partitioned into genetic and various environmental sources, and describe how this composition has changed over recent centuries.

Of course, it's often said that humans are no longer evolving. Yet numerous molecular genetic studies have shown that—at least for specific loci—evolution in contemporary human populations is occurring. Our project explores whether the considerable environmental changes human society has experienced over recent centuries (e.g., the demographic transition, and the shift to market economies) have resulted in the evolution of traits closely allied to Darwinian fitness.


Education and Professional Positions

2015 - 2017 Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Switzerland
2013 - 2015 Forskare (~ Researcher), Department of Animal Ecology, Uppsala University, Sweden
2011 - 2013 Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Department of Animal Ecology, Uppsala University, Sweden
2007 - 2011 Ph.D., Edward Grey Institute, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK
2005 - 2006 M.Sc., Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK
2002 - 2005 B.Sc., University of Cambridge, UK