Professor Roger Butlin

Prof Roger Butlin

Tel: +44 (0)114 222 0097
Fax: +44 (0)114 222 0002

email :


1973-1976 Jesus College, Cambridge BA Natural Sciences (Genetics)
1979-1982 Ph.D. Department of Genetics, University of Nottingham
1982-1986 Senior Research Associate, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia.
1987-1992 Royal Society 1983 University Research Fellow, School of Pure and Applied Biology, University of Wales College of Cardiff
1992-1994 Lecturer, Department of Genetics, The University of Leeds
1994-1999 Reader in Evolutionary Biology, School of Biology, The University of Leeds
1999-2004 Professor of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biology, The University of Leeds
2013-2014 Tage Erlander Guest Professor, Swedish Research Council (held at the University of Gothenburg), 50%
2014-2015 Waernska Guest Professor, University of Gothenburg, 50%

Key Research Interests

My research is concerned primarily with the origin of barriers to gene exchange, especially the evolutionary genetics of reproductive isolation. I have used insect acoustic and chemical signals as model systems to investigate the controversial process of reinforcement, particularly in parapatry, and questions such as the inheritance of signal characters and the form of female preferences. I am currently working on local adaptation and speciation in winkles (Littorina) and host races of the pea aphid (Acrythosiphon). I also collaborate in related projects with Drosophila subobscura and D. montana. Another area of research concerns the evolution of asexual reproduction. I am interested in evolution at range margins and its implications for conservation genetics. I collaborate in studies of the genetic basis of virulence in the parasistic plant Striga.


My teaching is concentrated around my research specialization in evolutionary biology. At Level 2, I teach the APS220 Evolution module along with Rhonda Snook (who is the Module Coordinator). My part of the course focuses on the genetic basis of evolutionary change and the forces that drive change. At Level 3, I coordinate a course, APS344 Topics in Evolutionary Genetics, which is based around student-led discussion sessions rather than conventional lectures. I run one of three topics, on the genetics of speciation, using recent, high-profile papers to bring students right up to date with current controversies.

I also teach on the APS336 Peak District Field Course. This is a non-residential course based mainly on the Longshaw Estate and focusing on developing understanding of scientific method through student-led projects.

Recent Level 4 MBiolSci students in my group have worked on speciation-related questions in the rocky-shore gastropod, Littorina, or pea aphids. They have used morphometric and behavioural approaches as well as molecular genetic techniques.

Professional Activities

President, European Society for Evolutionary Biology, 2013-2015

Darwin-Wallace Medal, 2015, awarded by the Linnean Society of London

Associate Editor, American Naturalist, from 2015

Editor in Chief, Heredity, 2009-2012

Member (2008, 2010) and Chair (2012, 2014), European Research Council Advanced Grants Panel, LS8

Current Research Group

Dr Anja Westram
Parallel local adaptation and speciation in Littorina


Dr Ludovic Duvaux
Development of approximate Bayesian computation for inference of demography and selection, using the pea aphid model


Dr Isobel Eyres
Chemosensory genes and host race formation in aphids


Dr Suo Qiu (collaborative project with Prof. Julie Scholes)
Genetics of virulence in Striga


Dr Jonna Kulmuni (Visitor, HFSP fellow)
Evolution of incompatibilities in Formica ants


Dr Takeshi Kawakami (Visitor, Swedish Research Council fellow)
Evolution of sex chromosome


Graduate Students

Claudius Kerth
Genetics of sterility in a grasshopper hybrid zone


David Hopkins
Metabolomic and behavioural basis of host choice in aphids


Mauricio Montano-Rendon
Phylogeography of Littorina in Britain


Pragya Chaube
Association analysis in Littorina contact zones


Susana Freitas (Visitor, based at CIBIO, University of Porto)
Asexual lineages in the lizard genus, Darevskia


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