Population Biology and Conservation Biology,
Evolutionary Biology Centre,
Norbyvägen 18 D,
SE-752 36 Uppsala,
Phone: +46 18471 2688
My research interests mostly focus around house mice, Mus musculus. House mice are interesting beasts, in that they rely almost entirely on humans for transport and for livings space, i.e. villages and towns or modern farms. This has been extraordinarily successful life history strategy and the mice are now found on almost every continent. This close association also means the house mouse phylogeography and population genetics will reflect the human colonisation and settlement history that brought the house mice to a region. During my PhD, I focussed on the house mice within the north east Atlantic region, encompassing Scandinavia, the British Isles, the Faeroe islands, Iceland, even extending as far as Greenland and Newfoundland. Using mtDNA phylogenies from both ancient and modern samples and archaeological evidence, the mice across this region appear to be primarily linked to the colonisation activity of the Norwegian Vikings, although we also evidence for Iron Age colonisation (France, England and southern Ireland) and more modern colonisation events (Faroe, Newfoundland).
Catching house mice (or, in this case, chipmunks) in Newfoundland
In many ways house mice make good study animals. The species is subdivided into a number of subspecies, two of which, Mus musculus musculus and M. m. domesticus, are present in Europe and form highly studied hybrid zones. The cherry on the cake is that, as a laboratory model organism, there are enormous genomic resources available to study genome wide effects of hybridisation. Within the area I study, a range of hybridization events have occurred, most notably in Faroe and Norway. Within Norway, I narrowed down the location of the hybrid zone between M. m. domesticus to the west and M. m. musculus to the east. More bizarrely, the mouse mice in the east of the country carry a M. m. musculus Y chromosome in otherwise M. m. domesticus populations. I am currently studying how this came about, by looking in more detail at the distribution of Y haplotypes, and at the effect this has had on the rest of the genome using genome wide SNPs. The situation in Faroe is similarly strange, in that the mice on some of the islands have musculus traces on the X chromosome, likely linked to more recent house mouse introductions from Denmark.
The island (and village) of Nolsy in the Faroe islands. Here, the house mice have a mixed genome, with the overall M. m. domesticus genome representing the early house mouse arrivals from Norway in the Viking period, and a later and smaller M. m. musculus genetic component reflecting likely more recent input from Denmark.
I did my PhD at the University of York in the UK with Prof Jeremy Searle between 2005-2009. I have previously worked as an ecological consultant, mostly conducting surveys for bats and great crested newts (2003-2005). I was also employed by the then Central Science Laboratory (2000-2001), a research agency for what was then, mutatis mutandis, the British Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries where I worked on a project which assessed the impact of Government subsidised farm woodland schemes on the environment. I spent many interesting days and nights trapping small mammals and radio tracking bats across the countryside, and learnt a great deal about wildlife and wildlife survey methods.