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Queen's University

BIOL 537 2013-14
Dr. C. Eckert

Rm:   4447A Bioscience Complex
Tel:   (613) 533-6158
Faculty Web Site:

We are investigating the process of evolutionary adaptation: What is the role of natural selection in relation to other evolutionary forces? How do interactions between ecology & genetics influence the mode & tempo of evolution? What constrains adaptation thereby limiting species geographical and ecological distributions?
And we do all this with plants. Yes plants. Because plants exhibit unparalleled diversity in life history, reproductive mode & genetic system, and they often exhibit striking evolutionary diversity within individual species and sometimes within individual populations. Plus they are really strange and wonderful organisms and very co-operative during experiments. In my lab, we embrace our inner botanist and a large part of training in my lab is learning about plant natural history and ecology.
The thesis projects in my lab usually dovetail with the major projects being conducted by my grad students, but there are always some exploratory projects that strike off in new directions and are appropriate for particularly intrepid undergrads. I am also eager to hear about novel ideas from undergraduate students who have a particular interest. All students are directly supervised by me.
This year (summer & fall 2013, winter 2014) we have a project going on in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta investigating the ecology & evolution of altitudinal range limits.
I also have 2 conservation-oriented projects I’m quite keen on.
One project, which would appeal to a student with an interest in conservation policy, investigates the geographical scope of conservation research in Canada. This would primarily involve a meta-analysis of published studies as they relate to conservation policy for species at risk.
Another project will investigate the co-evolution of geographic ranges between crop plants and their associated weeds. Plant breeding and biotechnology are aimed at increasing the ecological range of crop plants. To what extent can their weeds keep up?
I will take on 2 motivated and enthusiastic thesis students next year..
If you are interested in talking about potential projects, please phone (613-533-6158) or email     



Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000