UCL Division of Biosciences


CBER Seminar - Rachel Hester, UCL

03 July 2023, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm


Title: 'Unravelling the Invasion History of the Alpine Newt Ichthyosaura Alpestris Using Population Genomics'

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni




Amy Godfrey


G01 Lankester LT
Medawar Building

Abstract: The status of invasive species as one of the greatest threats to global biodiversity is well established. Underpinning every successful biological invasion is the invasion process, a complex series of steps which facilitates the transition from introduced, non-native organisms to widespread invasive populations. Population genomics tools are increasingly being employed to investigate the genetic processes and phenomena associated with the process of invasion in these unique populations. Analyses of molecular markers, such as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), can provide insight into various stages of the invasion process, such as routes of invasion and number of introductions. Invasion genomics also offers an opportunity to study demographic events, such as genetic bottlenecks, as well as evolutionary processes such as inbreeding and adaptation. Furthermore, SNP analyses enables the study of current genetic structure of invasive populations, which can provide insight into invasion history.  The alpine newt Ichthyosaurus alpestris is native to mainland Europe, and has become well-established at various locations in the UK. The alpine newt pattern of invasion in the UK suggests both primary introductions from its native range, and secondary translocations from established sites of invasion. Preliminary results provide an insight into the genetic variation within these populations, with clear population structure also evident. Such research highlights the value of utilising genomics to describe the various mechanisms that underpin successful biological invasions. 

About the Speaker

Rachel Hester

PhD Student at UCL

I'm a 2nd year PhD student at UCL and IoZ, supervised by Dr Jim Labisko, Professor Trent Garner and Dr Jinliang Wang. My research utilises population genomics and other investigative methods to understand more about the invasion history of the non-native alpine newt in the UK. I'm interested in drawing from molecular (mainly genomic) techniques to answer ecological and evolutionary questions, and address conservation issues. Before starting my PhD I did my undergraduate in Zoology in Trinity College Dublin and my MSc in Immunology and Global Health in Maynooth University. I also worked as a research assistant in the Applied Proteomics Lab in Maynooth, looking at proteomic responses in aphids during feeding. 

More about Rachel Hester