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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Professor Christophe Eizaguirre


Professor of Evolutionary and Conservation Genetics, Head of Biology Department

Telephone: +44 (0) 207 882 6982
Room Number: Room 6.04, Fogg Building

Undergraduate Teaching

  • Practical Molecular and Cellular Biology (Tutorials, BIO190)
  • Practical Biology (Tutorials, BIO192)
  • Research Methods and Communication (Tutorial, BIO209)
  • Research Methods and Communication II (Tutorials, BIO309)

Postgraduate Teaching

Teaching on our Biodiversity and Conservation MSc:

  • Frontiers in Conservation and Evolution (BIO771P)
  • Marine Mammals and Turtles (BIO794P)


Research Interests:

Eizaguirre lab Research website

Over the last years, I have developed an interdisciplinary research program based on evolutionary and conservation genetics. Particularly, my research focuses on the evolution of small/endangered populations/ species and how they respond to threats such as diseases or climate change. We use two different model species, the evolutionary super model the three-spined stickleback and the endangered loggerhead turtles.

1. Adaptive evolution in a model species, the three-spined stickleback. 

The three-spined stickleback fish has been described as a super evolutionary model thanks to its outstanding adaptive capacity. We use this model system to understand the genomics and epigenomics of adaptation to selection pressures such as disease or consequences of climate change (temperature and salinity).

After focusing on the genomics of adaptation, we have switched gears and now focus on the underlying basis of disease tolerance and the mechanisms that enable individuals to cope with environmental changes during their life time. Our main focus-mechanisms is DNA-methylation which forms a basis of phenotypic plastic which may even be linked to some forms of inheritance. 

We also dedicate a lot of efforts to improve our theoretical understanding of species' evolution using individual-based model of complex systems.  

2. Conservation of marine turtles

Conservation of marine organisms is a true challenge as most remains to be discovered from the oceans which cover about 70 % of the world’s surface. Our project aims at using state-of the art molecular and telemetry techniques to develop novel conservation programs for the Cape Verde Loggerhead Turtles (Caretta caretta).

Only recently scientists discovered that Cape Verde supports the third largest nesting population in the world. Like all Sea Turtles, the loggerhead turtles are highly endangered of extinction and listed on the Red List of the IUCN. Robust scientific monitoring and preservation of genetic diversity of the Loggerhead turtle has therefore become a crucial necessity to identify future directions of conservation efforts.

Using our long-term monitoring of this population, we discovered that the leech parasites are associated with the evolution of different reproductive strategies. As the prevalence of this parasite increases and is the possible vector of a lethal virus, we monitor the genetics basis of tolerance to predict the future impact of this parasite/virus on this endangered sea turtles population. 

One of the main threats to sea turtles is the rapid increase in global temperatures, since it affects their sex determination. At the current pace of global warming, it is predicted that most sea turtle populations will produce >95% females by the end of the current century. To innovate solutions to this problem, we focus on the epigenetic determinism of sex determination to identify biomarkers of sex determination. We also investigate how DNA-methylation relates to individual capacity to deal with various conditions across the Cabo Verde archipelago. 

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