Welcome to the Dugdale Research Group

We are interested in the evolution of within- and between-individual differences in behavioural and life-history traits. Our current focus is the evolution of senescence. One of the most profound challenges we all face is that we deteriorate with age – a process known as senescence. Individuals clearly senesce differently, but our understanding of how and why individuals senesce in such different ways remains limited. Our research takes a comprehensive and integrative approach to investigate why individual variation in senescence evolved and is maintained. This will generate vital knowledge on how individuals can live longer, healthier lives.

Here are some of our research interests:


We study senescence in natural populations. We are using genomic markers to investigate the relative impact of environmental, social, transgenerational and genetic effects on senescence. We are also interested in how the gut microbiome affects senescence.

Seychelles warblers with helpers have reduced senescence


Why do individuals behave differently, and consistently so, and why are these differences maintained in populations? We investigate the heritability and fitness consequences of personality, such as the tendency to explore.

Exploration is heritable in Seychelles warblers

Mate choice

Understanding variation in extra-group paternity (EGP) remains a major challenge in evolutionary biology. Our research investigates the evolution of EGPsuch as personality dependent mate choice and sexual selection on MHC genes.

European badgers undergo reproductive senescence

Women in science

We are passionate about promoting women in science and we enjoy teaching about our research to school children. We have conducted research into reasons underlying lower visibility of female scientists at evolutionary biology conferences.

Demonstrating nest box checks in a Croatian school

For more information about our group, see the University of Groningen website, our Wiki and our GitHub account.

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