Diana Rennison


Our group takes an integrative approach to determine the mechanisms central to the origin and maintenance of the spectacular species diversity we see in the world today.

The core questions we seek to address are: How do sources of selection interact to shape the course of evolution and the generation of biodiversity? And why do organisms follow certain evolutionary trajectories when many are possible? To tackle these questions we integrate population genomics, field collections and experimental estimates of natural selection. Much of our work falls into two streams: visual ecology or eco-evolutionary genomics.

Vision is an interesting trait to study; it has a well characterized genetic basis and is likely often under strong natural and sexual selection. We are interested in understanding how visual systems evolve in novel spectral environments and are working towards direct estimates of selection on traits relevant to vision.

Biotic agents of natural selection (e.g. predators, competitors, symbiants) are thought to play an important role in diversification. However, we have little idea about the imposed selective landscapes or evolutionary responses to these agents. We use field studies and manipulative experiments to disentangle the contributions of such biotic agents to observed patterns of divergence.

To further elucidate the genetic and ecological factors that influence evolutionary trajectories we use large scale population genomic analyses. So far we have examined whether pleiotropy is a source of evolutionary constraint that underlies the predictability of evolutionary responses and we are working on investigating the contribution of copy number variation.

Select Publications

  • Rennison, D.J., K.E. Delmore, K.M. Samuk, G.L. Owens, & S.E. Miller. Parallel selection and geographic proximity predict shared patterns of genome-wide differentiation after colonization of novel environments. American Naturalist. In Press.
  • Rennison, D.J., S.M Rudman & D. Schluter. Parallel differentiation of the gut-microbiome during ecological speciation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. In Press.
  • Rennison, D.J., S.M. Rudman, & D. Schluter. 2019. Genetics of adaptation: experimental test of a biotic mechanism driving divergence in traits and genes. Evolution Letters 3:513-520.
  • Rennison, D.J., Y.E. Stuart, D.I. Bolnick, & C.L. Peichel. 2019. Ecological factors and morphological traits are associated with repeated genomic differentiation between lake and stream stickleback. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 374:20180241.
  • Reyes-Contreras, M., G. Glauser, D.J. Rennison, & B. Taborsky. 2019. Early-life manipulation of cortisol and its receptor alters stress axis programming and social competence. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 374:20180119.
  • Bolnick, D.I., R.D.H. Barrett, K. Oke, D.J. Rennison, & Y.E. Stuart. 2018 (Non)Parallel Evolution. Annual Reviews of Ecology, Evolution & Systematics. 49: 303-330.
  • Gygax, M., A.K. Rentscha, S.M. Rudman, & D.J. Rennison. 2018. Differential predation alters pigmentation in threespine stickleback. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 31:1589-1598.
  • Brock, C., D.J. Rennison., T. Veen, & D.I. Bolnick. Opsin expression predicts male nuptial color in threespine stickleback. Ecology and Evolution. 8:7095-7102.
  • Samuk, K.M., J. Xue, & D.J. Rennison. 2018. Exposure to predators does not lead to the evolution of larger brains in experimental populations of threespine stickleback. Evolution. 72:916-929.
  • Samuk, K.M., G.L. Owens, K.E. Delmore, S.E. Miller, D.J. Rennison, & D. Schluter. 2017. Gene flow and selection interact to promote adaptive divergence in regions of low recombination. Molecular Ecology. 26:4378-4390.
  • Veen, T., C. Brock, D.J. Rennison, & D.I. Bolnick. 2017. Fine scale tuning of the visual system to a depth gradient in threespine stickleback. Molecular Ecology. 26:4339-4350.
  • Rudman, S.M., J. Heavyside, D.J. Rennison, & D. Schluter. 2016. Piscivore addition causes a trophic cascade within and across ecosystem boundaries. Oikos. 125:1782-1789.
  • Rennison, D.J., G.L. Owens, N. Heckman, D. Schluter, & T. Veen. 2016. Rapid adaptive evolution of colour vision in the threespine stickleback radiation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 283:20160242.
  • Miller, S.E., K.M. Samuk, & D.J. Rennison. 2016. An experimental test of predation’s effect upon behaviour and trait correlations in threespine stickleback. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 119:117-125.


Diana completed her Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia, where she studied the genetic basis of adaptation in the threespine stickleback to predation and other sources of divergent selection. For her postdoctoral work she took up a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship at the University of Bern; during this time Diana studied parallel genomic differentiation and genetic sources of evolutionary constraint. Diana joined the faculty in 2019.