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Vanessa Cutts

PhD: Evolutionary dynamics in changing environments: oceanic islands as natural experiments

University of Nottingham
Email Vanessa Cutts


I completed a BSc in Zoology at the University of Reading followed by an MSc in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation at Imperial College. For my masters project I studied an asexual class of microscopic animals: Bdelloid rotifers in an attempt to understand how they have diversified in the absence of sexual reproduction. I would describe myself as an ecologist and evolutionary biologist with a specific interest in mechanisms that promote speciation.

Research Project:

For my PhD project I aim to understand the mechanism by which specialized species evolve using oceanic islands as natural experiments.  I will compare two theories: 1) speciation by niche packing and 2) speciation by ecological isolation.  I will use island data sets to test the ability of these two models to explain existing specialisation.  This project will contribute to our understanding of general biodiversity patterns.