Graduate Research Opportunities in Adaptation Across Species’ Ranges

We are recruiting two graduate students (MSc or PhD) to work on the ecology and genetics of adaptation and geographic range limits in flowering plants endemic to the wonderful Pacific coastal dunes of California and adjacent Oregon and Baja California. The students would be co-supervised by Chris Eckert (Queen’s U) and Karen Samis (U Prince Edward Island) and based in the Biology Department at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Our research programs provide opportunities for diverse graduate student projects, and PhD students, especially, are encouraged to develop their own research directions. Here are some examples:

(1) Using experimental evolution to investigate constraints on adaptation at and beyond geographical range limits.
(2) Contribution of hybridization to adaptation across geographic ranges.
(3) Does geographic variation in metapopulation dynamics yield stable range limits?
(4) Reproductive isolation during diversification of the mating system and life history across species’ ranges.

All projects will involve considerable field work in California, Oregon and Mexico, field experiments and genomic analyses.

Here’s some background reading:

Samis, K.E., A. López-Villalobos & C.G. Eckert. 2016. Strong genetic differentiation but not local adaptation toward the range limit of a coastal dune plant. Evolution doi: 10.1111/evo.13047
Hargreaves, A.L., K.E. Samis and C.G. Eckert. 2014. Are species’ range limits simply niche limits writ large? A review of transplant experiments beyond the range. American Naturalist 183: 157–173.
Samis, K.E. and C.G. Eckert. 2009. Ecological correlates of fitness across the northern geographic range limit of a pacific coast dune plant. Ecology 90: 3051–3061.
Eckert, C.G., K.E. Samis & S.C. Lougheed. 2008. Genetic variation across species’ geographic ranges: the central-marginal hypothesis and beyond. Molecular Ecology 17: 1170-1188.
Darling, E., K.E. Samis & C.G. Eckert. 2008. Increased seed dispersal potential towards geographic range limits in a Pacific coast dune plant. New Phytologist 178: 424-435.
Samis, K.E. & C.G. Eckert. 2007. Testing the abundant center model using range-wide demographic surveys of two coastal dune plants. Ecology 88: 1747–1758.

For more details and recent publications, please check out our web sites:

The Biology Department at Queen’s University ( includes active research groups in diverse areas, including plant ecology & evolution, behavioural ecology, molecular population genetics & systematics, paleolimnology, and plant physiology & molecular biology. Our large community of graduate students provides a stimulating & friendly academic environment. Graduate students are guaranteed financial support of $22,000/year from scholarships, research stipends & teaching assistantships (2 years for an MSc, 4 years for a PhD,

The position is open to all students who are Canadian citizens. Acceptance of international students is contingent on successful application for a tuition waiver or independent funding to cover foreign student tuition fees.

If you are interested, please send a CV and contact information for at least 2 academic references plus a covering letter.

Informal inquiries are also welcome.

Dr. Christopher G. Eckert        and      Dr. Karen Samis