Timothée Bonnet bio photo

Timothée Bonnet

Evolutionary biologist/ecologist

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Research themes


I am an evolutionary biologist primarily interested in recent genetic evolution and its interaction with the ecology and life-history of the organisms I see around me while hiking or birdwatching.

Contemporary evolution: how it works and whether it matters

Human activities changes the environment of many species, to the point where they can go extinct. Genetic adaptation is one thing that can allow them to persist, but 1) Does genetic adaptation to environmental changes happen on contemporary time scales in wild populations? A subsidiary question more rarely asked, but the one we need to know whether populations persist of go extinct, is: 2) Does it matter for population dynamics?

Spoilers: Based on my PhD and postdoc work on a snow vole population, the answers are 1) absolutely, yes; and 2) probably yes, but it is very difficult to be sure.

Recursive evolution: hybridization and speciation

I am also interested in the evolutionary consequences of hybridization. Closely related species sometimes hybridize and exchange genes (introgression) after having diverged, leading to recursive evolution. I have done work on how this process can create new species (Elgvin et al. 2011), and on why some parts of the genome tend to introgress more that others (Bonnet et al. 2017).

Biodiversity and human activities

Although it is currently not a major research focus of mine, it is difficult doing wildlife research without thinking about the effects of human activities on biodiversity (sadly mainly negative, but do not forget the good sides).

I studied how voles deal with repeated disturbance associated with modern farming (Bonnet et al. 2013). Spoiler: they get literally crushed, but take advantage of productive crops to reproduce fast between two ploughing events.

I did an internship on the conservation of birds in extensive Alpine meadows with a local branch of Birdlife France ( LPO Isère ).