Dr Bjarki Eldon
+44(0)1865 272860 (Dept)
+44(0)1865 281886 (Direct)
Currently working as a postdoc in Alison Etheridge's group. I did my graduate work in John Wakeley's group in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA, USA). During my time at Harvard I completed a lot of courses in the Department of Statistics, which sum up to a MA degree.
From University of Iceland I earned a Bachelor degree in biology in June 1997, and a Master's in biology in June 2000. During the summer of 2000 I worked on a small project related to my Master's thesis studies. From Sept 2000 until Sept 2004 I worked as a biostatistician in a small biotechnology company that focused on cancer research.
Population genetics, Evolutionary biology, Marine animal populations, Population models with large numbers of offspring, Lambda- and Xi-coalescent processes, Probability theory, Bayesian statistics
On my research: Some marine organisms like Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) have high fecundity to make up for high early mortality. They also tend to exhibit a large number of genetic variants present in low-copy numbers. These characteristics imply that, occasionally at least, a few lucky parents have very many offspring. Population models traditionally employed are applicable to populations with low numbers of offspring; humans are a good example
of such a population. I'm interested in population models that allow for large numbers of offspring. The coalescent process that results from these models allows multiple mergers of ancestral lineages, and so is a special case of the Lambda-coalescent introduced independently by Pitman (1999) and Sagitov (1999). A lot of work remains in understanding large offspring numbers in terms of predictions about genetic diversity and developing inference methods. Apart from a pure academic interest, better understanding of the genetics of commercially important marine populations should improve conservation and management efforts. Multiple merger coalescent models may also find applications in medical genetics and epidemiology.
Natural populations interact in many ways. Two examples are predation, and competition for resources such as space. Developing population models, and the resulting coalescent processes, that account
for interactions among populations is a major goal. As a first step, I'm developing and classifying multiple merger coalescent processes that allow for stochastically changing population size.
Other related projects include developing diploid biparental population models that allow large offspring numbers, with the aim of deriving ancestral recombination graphs.
James Degnan at University of Canterbury (Christchurch, New Zealand) and I are computing concordance probabilities between gene trees and species trees for multiple merger coalescent processes. These calculations will be important for phylogeny reconstruction of marine organisms with large offspring numbers.
Emily Knott at University of Jyvaskyla (Finland) and I are developing coalescent simulation programs with multiple mergers with the aim of inferring selection in populations with large offspring numbers.
Eldon, B (2009) Structured coalescent processes from a modified Moran
model with large offspring numbers. Theor Popul Biol 76:92--104.
Eldon, B and Wakeley, J (2009) Coalescence times and Fst under a
skewed offspring distribution among individuals in a population.
Eldon, B and Wakeley, J (2008) Linkage disequilibrium under skewed
offspring distribution among individuals in a population. Genetics
Eldon, B and Wakeley, J (2006) Coalescent processes when the
distribution of offspring number among individuals is highly skewed.
See CV for a full list of publications.