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At present, my research can be encompassed by two main themes: intraspecific phenotypic variation and human impacts on ecology and evolution. The questions that I find particularly interesting, and that I attempt to answer within these themes, fall within the fields of animal behaviour, parasitism, and evolution. To address these questions, I use a combination of fieldwork, laboratory, and meta-analytical techniques.


Intraspecific phenotypic variation

Even within a single species, animals differ markedly in their phenotypic traits. This intraspecific variation has been shown to be ecologically and evolutionarily relevant. Understanding why biodiversity exists in nature, along with the possible consequences of this biodiversity through space and time, thus requires an understanding of the factors that generate variation within a species. In threespine stickleback and Trinidadian guppies, I am exploring some of these factors that generate phenotypic variation within- and among-populations, including variation in behavioural traits, evolutionary history, and parasitism/immune responses.

Relevant publications:

Heckley, A. M., Pearce, A. E., Gotanda, K. M., Hendry, A. P.,  Oke, K. B. (2022) Compiling forty years of guppy research to investigate the factors contributing to (non)parallel evolution. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. DOI:

Heckley, A.M., de Lira, J.J.P.R., Hendry, A.P., Perez-Jvostov, F. (2022) How might Gyrodactylus parasitism modify trade-offs between female preference and susceptibility of males to predation in Trinidadian guppies? International Journal for Parasitology. DOI:


Relevant collaborators: Dr. Andrew Hendry, Dr. Kiyoko Gotanda, Dr. Alison Bell, Dr. Daniel Bolnick, Dr. Sandra Binning

Human impacts

Anthropogenic disturbances around the world are forcing animals to respond to rapid environmental changes. These impacts will have strong effects on animal phenotypes, and any ecological or evolutionary patterns that we wish to observe. Habitat degradation is one source of disturbance that is particularly pressing in tropical regions and can have severe effects on wildlife. Thus far, using Neotropical bat ectoparasites and viruses as case studies, I have investigated how habitat degradation can impact the prevalence and intensities of parasite infections.

Human “impacts” can also be investigated in another way; that is, rather than disturbing environments, humans often attempt to restore them. Considering this, much of my research is conducted in the context of conservation translocations. In particular, I am investigating variation in movement outwards from the point where animals are introduced during translocations, as well as how/why animals assort non-randomly following translocations.

Relevant publications: 

Heckley, A.M., Lock, L.R., Becker, D. J. (2023) A meta-analysis exploring associations between habitat degradation and Neotropical bat virus prevalence and seroprevalence. Ecography. 


Heckley, A.M., Becker, D. J. (2023) Tropical bat ectoparasitism in continuous versus fragmented forests: a gap analysis and preliminary meta-analysis. Ecology and Evolution. DOI:

Relevant collaborators: Dr. Kiyoko Gotanda, Dr. Andrew Hendry, Dr. Daniel Becker


Fishing for guppies in Trinidad (photo: Janay Fox)

One of many lakes in Alaska involved in an ecosystem restoration project where I study stickleback movement

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