Kiyoko Gotanda

Subject: Evolution and ecology

Department/institution: Zoology

Contact details:

Twitter: @photopidge

Research interests:

Dr Gotanda’s research focuses on the intersection of evolution, ecology, and behaviour. Broadly, she seeks to understand how variation in selective pressures affects the origins and evolution of biological diversity. More specifically, she focuses on adaptation and how it is affected by spatial and temporal variation in selection.

Her current research is on how humans are influencing the evolution of Darwin’s finches in the Galápagos. Humans can alter evolution and adaptation through a variety of mechanisms. For example, the increase in urbanisation (development of villages, towns and cities) has a strong effect on ecological and evolutionary processes. On islands such as the Galápagos, these threats are amplified and can have a major impact on evolution and adaptation. Strong, human-induced pressures could be fundamentally altering the evolutionary processes underlying island species’ diversification and the maintenance of such biodiversity.

Darwin’s finches are an iconic example of an adaptive radiation, where several species now exist and each species can exploit a different ecological niche. However, humans and urbanisation appear to be influencing their evolution. To better understand how this is occurring, Dr Gotanda’s current research focuses on behavioural adaptations and how they differ between urban and non-urban environments. She is also researching how Darwin’s finches are adapting to the presence of invasive predators.

Select publications and awards


  • A Siepielski; M B Morrissey; M Buoro; S M Carlson; C M Caruso; S M Clegg; T Coulson; J DiBattista; K M Gotanda; C D Francis; J Hereford; J G Kingsolver; K E Augustine; L E B Kruuk; R A Martin; B C Sheldon; N Sletvold; E I Svensson; M J Wade; and A D C MacColl, ‘Climate Variation Shapes Natural Selection in the Wild’, Science (in press)
  • M Alberti; C Correa; J Marzluff; A P Hendry; E P Palkovacs; K M Gotanda; V Hunt; T M Apgar; and Y Zhou, ‘Global Urban Signatures of Phenotypic Change in Animal and Plant Populations, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017)
  • A P Hendry; K M Gotanda; and E I Svensson, ‘Human Influences on Evolution and the Ecological and Societal Consequences’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society – B, 372:1712 (2017).


  • Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) – Banting postdoctoral fellowship $140,000 CAD
  • Le Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Nature et les Technologies (FQRNT) – postdoctoral research fellowship $70,000 CAD