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UCL Division of Biosciences

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Dr Julia Day

Dr Julia Day

Senior Lecturer

Genetics, Evolution & Environment

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
1st Sep 2007

Research summary

Evolution

Understanding the causes of disparities in species diversity across taxonomic groups and regions is a major aim in evolutionary biology. A major interest in our lab is investigating patterns and processes of diversification leading to the build up of diversity at local and regional scales in which we apply systematic approaches.

We are particularly interested in studying comparative systems in order to better understand whether there are common factors that have promoted elevated levels of species richness and how this biodiversity is maintained. We focus on clades that have radiated within spatially restricted settings (e.g. lakes, islands) and at the continental scale.

In order to better understand topics such as the tempo and mode of species diversification, adaptive radiation and biogeographic history, novel molecular data is used to reconstruct phylogenetic trees. Phylogenies are combined with ecological, biogeographical, morphological, morphometric and fossil data in an integrative approach. Projects generally focus on vertebrate clades, with strong focus on African fish groups. With our strong interests in evolutionary biology we are members of Centre for Life’s Origins (CLOE) at UCL.

Biodiversity and ecology

As members of the Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology (CBER) at UCL we are also interested in assessing human impacts on biodiversity and methods of monitoring biodiversity.

Environmental (e)DNA metabarcoding is still in its infancy, but has the potential to revolutionize monitoring communities, particularly in aquatic habitats and can outperform traditional techniques. As a result eDNA metabarcoding holds the potential to greatly enhance our ability to both monitor and understand the ecology of aquatic ecosystems.

We have several projects using (e)DNA metabarcoding. With our long-standing interests in African freshwaters, we are interested in how effective this technique is for monitoring species-rich habitats in tropical African lakes, and have also begun a project investigating schistosomiasis across various African freshwater habitats. We are also conducting a project much closer to home, and are using eDNA metabarcoding to investigate fish communities, including the detection of non-natives fishes, in the River Thames.

Along with our work on eDNA we have been investigating the effectiveness of protected areas on freshwater biodiversity in Lake Tanganyika, where we have been generating field data from scuba surveys, along with morphometric, ecological and phylogenetic data to investigate human impacts on all aspects of biodiversity.

For more details about our research please visit the website: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucbtjjd/Site/home.html

Teaching summary

Julia teaches a module Animal Biodiversity, which is available to second year undergraduates with interests in animal biology, evolution and systematics. She also provides lectures on the first year module Life on Earth and a module Vertebrate Evolution on the M.Sci. degree program.

Her lab welcomes research students from both the M.Sci. program  and the MRes in Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation (BEC).

Education

University College London
PhD, Zoology | 2000
University of Bristol
BSc Hons, Geology | 1995
Publications