Welcome to the Eco-Evo Theory Group at Simon Fraser University

We are based in the Department of Mathematics at Simon Fraser University (SFU) as part of the MAGPIE research group.

We respectfully acknowledge the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), q̓íc̓əy̓ (Katzie), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Qayqayt, Kwantlen, Semiahmoo and Tsawwassen peoples on whose unceded traditional territories we work and reside.

What we do

Led by Dr Ben Ashby, the goal of our research is to better understand the ecology and evolution of hosts and their parasites (“parasite” is taken in the broadest sense of the word to include bacteria and viruses as well as helminths and ticks).

We’re especially interested in coevolution, which is a process of reciprocal adaptations by hosts to defend themselves against parasites, and counter-adaptations by parasites to overcome or avoid host defences.

We use mathematical models and simulations to understand how parasites and the infectious diseases they cause evolve, for example to infect a broader or narrower range of hosts, or to become more or less virulent, and in turn, how hosts evolve to defend themselves through traits such as resistance, tolerance, and mate choice.

We also collaborate with some fantastic experimentalists to combine theoretical and empirical research.

What is Coevolution?

A short primer on coevolution, coevolutionary arms races, and the different types of ​fluctuating selection.

Research themes

How does ageing affect immunity, and vice versa?

How does ageing affect immunity, and vice versa?

We’re studying how the relationships between ageing and immunity evolve to understand why juveniles are sometimes inherently more susceptible to infection than adults, or vice versa, even after accounting for previous exposure.

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