Biological Sciences


Prof Nick Colegrave

Location: Ashworth 3 159

Telephone: 650 7705



Group members: Dr Rob Ness, Dr Susan Kraemer, Josianne Lachapelle, Nikola Petkovic


1987-1990Undergraduate, Biological sciences, Sussex University
1992-1995PhD Sheffield University
1995-1996NATO Fellow, McGill University
1997-1998Postdoctoral researcher, St Andrews University
1999Postdoctoral researcher, Glasgow University
2000Zoology demonstrator, Edinburgh University
2000-2003NERC research fellow, Edinburgh University
2003-2007 Lecturer in Biology
2008-PresentSenior Lecturer in Biology

Research groupings

Evolutionary Ecology, Center for immunity, infection and evolution


Program Organiser Zoology honours Origin and Diversity of Life 1 Evolution in Action 2 Field Zoology 3 Animal Diversity and Evolution 3 Project Design and Analysis (hons) Experimental Immunology (hons)

Research interests

 Core research 

My research interests are in the interface between ecology and evolution. Ecological interactions occur over a timescale of days or months, and have been viewed as essentially too quick to have relevance to long term evolution. Similarly, evolution was viewed as something that occurred over the millennia, and so of little importance to the day to day interactions studied by ecologists. However, it is slowly being realised that such a view is wrong and that the interaction between these fields is far more dynamic: The population dynamics of ecology will have profound effects on the selective forces of evolutionary biology which in turn will alter the properties of the organisms and affect their population dynamics. If we are to fully understand organic diversity, we need to consider both ecological and evolutionary forces, and the way in which they interact. Whilst my research has encompassed a wide range of organisms and specific questions, this general theme has run throughout. I do not limit myself to a single technique or study system, but instead attempt to use the best system for any particular question, often requiring a mixture of experimental and theoretical techniques. I am also actively involved in bringing evolutionary approaches to other field of biology, in particular infectious disease biology, and am part of several collaborative projects in this area.

Teaching interests

During the 15 years that I have been teaching at the University of Edinburgh it has become apparent to me that the major educational challenge in training biologists remains finding ways to engage them with issues of experimental design and statistics. Much of my current teaching focuses on addressing these issues, designing both courses and teaching materials to improve the statistical literacy of biology students and animal researchers. In support of this I have produced an introductory textbook on experimental design for life sciences. For more information on this, please see            my statistics webpage (link above)           

Representative publications

Text Books         

Ruxton, G. D. and Colegrave, N. (2010) Experimental design for the Life Sciences, 3rd edition, OUP, Oxford


Refereed publications

Lachapelle, J, Bell, GAC, and Colegrave, N (2015). Experimental adaptation to marine conditions by a freshwater alga. Evolution.69, 2662-2675.

Ness, R. W. Morgan, A. D. Radhakrishnan, V. B. Colegrave, N and Keightley P. D. (2015) Extensive de novo mutation rate variation between individuals and across the genome of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Genome research. 25 doi:10.1101/gr.191494.115

Lagator, M. Morgan, A, Neve, P and Colegrave, N. (2014). The Role of sex and migration in adaptation to sink environments. Evolution 68, 2296, 2305.

Little, T, J. , Allen J. E., Babayan, S.A. Matthews, K. R. and Colegrave, N (2012). Harnessing evolutionary biology to combat infectious disease. Nature Medicine. 18, 217 – 220.

Hall, A and Colegrave, N. (2008) The decay of unused characters by selection and drift. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 21, 610 – 617

Colegrave, N and Collins, S (2008) Experimental evolution and Evolvability. Heredity. doi: 10.1038/sj.hdy.6801095

Brockhurst MA, Colegrave N, Hodgson DJ and Buckling A (2007) Niche occupation limits adaptive radiation in experimental microcosms. PLoS ONE  2,  e193 –e195

Hall, A & Colegrave, N.  (2007). How does resource supply affect diversification? Proc. Roy.  Soc.  Lond. B. 274, 73 – 78.

Nee, S., N. Colegrave, West, S. and Grafen, A. (2005). The illusion of invariant quantities in life histories Science, 309, 1236 – 1239

Colegrave, N. and Ruxton, G. D. (2003).  Confidence intervals are a more useful compliment to non significant results than power analysis. Behavioural Ecology 14, 446-447.

Buckling, A., M. A. Wills & N. Colegrave. (2003). Adaptation limits diversification in experimental bacterial populations. Science. 302, 2107 – 2109

Colegrave, N. (2002) Sex releases the speed limit on evolution. Nature 420, 664-666