Dr Sonya Clegg

Dr Sonya Clegg


Name: Dr Sonya Clegg
Position: Associate Professor of Evolutionary Ecology and Tutorial Fellow of St Anne's College
Email: sonya.clegg@zoo.ox.ac.uk


I obtained my PhD from University of Queensland in 2000, before holding postdoctoral positions at the Center for Tropical Research, San Francisco State University (2000-2001), and Division of Biology, Imperial College London (2002-2004). I held a NERC Postdoctoral Fellowship at Imperial College London (2005-2008). After a year in environmental consulting in Australia, I took a lectureship position at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia (2010-2014). I joined the EGI in March 2014.

Research Interests

A common thread to my research is to increase understanding of the evolutionary processes that promote divergence in wild vertebrate systems. I use a variety of methodologies to answer questions about processes of genetic, morphological and ecological/behavioural differentiation.

Three current research areas are:

1) Genomics of divergence in island colonizing birds

Island colonizing birds often appear to undergo rapid divergence. Members of the Zosteropidae family provide an ideal system to examine genomic patterns of divergence associated with island colonisation across a spectrum of known population ages. I am applying genomic approaches to understand this rapid divergence, with a current focus on understanding genetic underpinnings of changes in dispersal tendencies.

2) The island syndrome

Species that colonise often display components of the ‘island syndrome’; a widespread biological phenomenon that describes a suite of phenotypic (morphological, behavioural), demographic, life history and genetic changes associated with island life. I am interested in understanding the extent of patterns in different species, with an aim to quantitatively assess the drivers of such repeated patterns.

3) Dynamics of natural selection in wild populations

I study the temporal dynamics of natural selection in an individually colour-ringed population of silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis chlorocephalus) Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia to understand the nature of phenotypic evolution. This population has been studied since the 1960s, and application of modelling techniques applied to the long-term dataset along with on-going collection of individual-based data allows insight into potential responses to changing environmental conditions.

Selected Recent Publications

Sendell-Price AT, Ruegg KC, Clegg SM (2020) Rapid morphological divergence following a human-mediated introduction: The role of drift and directional selection. Heredity. 124:535-549.

Valente L, Phillimore AB, Melo M, Warren BH, Clegg SM, Havenstein K, Tiedemann R, Illera JC, Thébaud C, Aschenbach T, Etienne RS (2020) A simple dynamic model explains island bird diversity worldwide. Nature. 579:92-96.

Quilodrán CS, Ruegg K, Sendell-Price AT, Anderson E, Coulson T, Clegg SM (2020) The multiple population genetic and demographic routes to islands of genomic divergence. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 11:6-21.

Kentie R, Clegg SM, Tuljapurkar,S; Gaillard, J-M, Coulson, T (2020) Life history strategy varies with the strength of competition in a food-limited ungulate population. Ecology Letters. 23:811-820.

Sandvig E, TN Coulson, SM Clegg (2019) The effect of insularity on avian growth rates and implications for insular body size evolution. Proc Roy Soc. B 286:20181967.

Sandvig E, TN Coulson, J Kikkawa, SM Clegg (2017) The influence of climatic variation and density on the survival of an insular passerine Zosterops lateralis. PLoS One 12(4): e0176360.

Clark NJ, SM Clegg (2017) Integrating phylogenetic and ecological distances reveals new insights into parasite host specificity. Molecular Ecology 26:3074-3086.

Siepielski A, MB Morrissey, M Buoro, SM Carlson, CM Caruso, SM Clegg, T Coulson, J DiBattista, KM Gotanda, CD Francis, J Hereford, JG Kingsolver, KE Augustine, LEB Kruuk, RA Martin, BC Sheldon, N Sletvold, EI Svensson, MJ Wade, ADC MacColl (2017) Precipitation drives global variation in natural selection. Science. 355:959-962

Clark NJ, K Wells, D Dimitrov, SM Clegg (2016) Co-infections and environmental conditions drive the distributions of blood parasites in wild birds. Journal of Animal Ecology. 85:1461-1470.

Potvin, DA, SM Clegg (2015) The relative roles of cultural drift and acoustic adaptation in shaping syllable repertoires of island bird populations change with time since colonization. Evolution 69(2):368-380.  

Sonya Clegg Full Publication List

Clegg Lab Group: https://www.zoo.ox.ac.uk/clegg-lab

Google Scholar page here: