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Professor Jon Bridle

Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics

I'd like to understand what ecological and genetic factors determine maximum rates of evolution in time and space. Such limits to adaptation determine why species have different (and differently sized) distributions and niche widths, as well as how these distributions are affected by environmental change, particularly habitat loss and climate change. My group's research uses a combination of ecological experiments, population genomics, and quantitative genetics.


GW4 NERC PhD position on evolutionary responses to climate change open for applications

NERC funded three year postdoc on the ecological genetic of Senecio plants on Mt Etna, Sicily - 4th Jan deadline


Current RCUK funding

(1) NERC Standard Grant (2017-2020): Evolutionary rescue and the limits to phenotypic plasticity: testing theory in the field. PI, with Prof Simon Hiscock and Dr Dmitry Filatov (University of Oxford).

(2) NERC Highlight Topic Grant (2016-2020): The velocity of evolutionary responses of species to ecological change; testing adaptive limits in time and space; Bristol PI, with Prof Jane Hill (PI, University of York) and Dr Ilik Saccheri (PI, University of Liverpool). 

(3) NERC Standard Grant (2016-2019): Ecological and evolutionary effects of climate change on rainforest food webs; co-PI, with Prof Owen Lewis (University of Oxford).


Other ongoing research projects include: (i) Interactions between natural and sexual selection along ecological gradients in Australian rainforest Drosophila; (ii) Evolution in response to climate change in the UK Brown Argus butterfly; (iii) Theoretical models of evolution at ecological margins where gene flow and selection interact and (iv) Local adaptation and evolutionary potential in plant-pollinator interactions in the UK cowslip. I also collaborate with Prof Simon Hiscock on speciation in Sorbus trees in the Avon Gorge, and Dr Martin Genner on adaptive radiation and the evolution of life histories in African cichlid species.

I am responsible for promoting Public Understanding of Science in the School of Biological Sciences, and am on the Steering Committee for the Bristol Natural History Consortium, which organises the annual Bristol Festival of Nature, and the Communicate conference for environmental communicators. I am also actively involved in University's new Cabot Centre for research int o environmental change, and in issues of biodiversity and sustainability more generally.

In 2011 I took part in a live panel discussion on biodiversity loss and population growth for BBC Radio 4's "Saving Species" programme.

I am co-editor of a 2009 book exploring how speciation affects patterns of biodiversity (see for a review in Science).

I have also contributed to the University of Queensland online course on "Making sense of Climate Change Denial"

Interview with Jon Bridle on biological responses to climate change

I am especially interested in exploring interactions between art and science. These have included the Arnolfini's "Seeds of Change" ballast seed garden.

Most recently I have collaborated with the artist Katie Paterson in the creation of "Hollow" at Royal Fort Gardens in Bristol.

Interview with Jon Bridle about Hollow

Hollow in conservation (public lecture)


Opportunities to work in our group

We are always keen to hear from students who are interested in postgraduate research in our group, either at the PhD or MSc level. Vacancies for specific PhD projects are advertised on School or GW4 DTP website, but I'm also happy to pursue other sources of funding, particularly for international applicants. Applicants should have a good degree in a relevant subject, and a passion for evolutionary biology and genetics.

We are also very keen to assist postdocs in applications for research fellowship at Bristol in an area related to my interests. Please feel free to contact me directly to discuss your project ideas.

Research keywords

  • population and evolutionary genetics