January 5th 2015 – Alexandra Tyers, Bangor University

Alexandra TyersI have always been fascinated with animals and the things they do, and started my career in science studying for a BSc in Behavioural Biology at the University of Wales Aberystwyth. After a short interlude I then moved up the coast to completed an MRes in Natural Sciences at Bangor University. It was here that I discovered the world of cichlid fish and developed a passion for evolutionary biology. I completed my PhD in Bangor (on divergence and speciation of East African haplochromine cichlids) and now work as a post-doctoral research officer investigating the genomics of sympatric speciation.

For my PhD I predominantly studied allopatric speciation, focusing on geographically separated divergent populations of cichlids within the Lake Malawi catchment. In contrast, the aim of project that I am now working on, is to relate phenotypic differences to genomic differences in individuals from a diverging sympatric population isolated in a small crater lake – in an attempt to elucidate what happens to the genome during divergence-with-gene-flow.

With the help of a great bunch of undergraduate/masters project students, I am currently phenotyping preserved wild caught specimens and carrying out mate choice and breeding experiments in the university’s extensive freshwater aquaria facilities.

I have maintained an active interest in animal behaviour and am particularly interested in individual differences in behaviour and “behavioural syndromes”. As a part of my work with cichlids, I am able to test consistency and and repeatability of behaviours such as mate choices, which has the potential to influence divergence and diversification of populations. I have also recently had the joy of working in collaboration with other members of staff within the School of Biological Sciences, to design and carry out cuttlefish behavioural experiments for investigating cephalopod personality.

During my biotweeps week I will mostly be tweeting about speciation and cichlids, but will no doubt sidetrack into other areas of evolutionary biology and animal behaviour, and will endeavour to answer any questions you may have.

I tweet as @alexandra_tyers, and also for George Turner’s cichlid group as @BangorCichlids. I work broadly within the Molecular Ecology and Fisheries Genetics Lab (a summary of my research can be found here: http://mefgl.bangor.ac.uk/staff/alexandra.php.en) who tweet as @MEFGL.

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