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Barton Group

Evolutionary genetics

The Barton group develops mathematical models to probe fundamental issues in evolution: for example, how do new species form, what limits adaptation, and what shapes the genetic system? Nick Barton and his group study diverse topics in evolutionary genetics. The main focus of their work is the effects of natural selection on many genes, and the evolution of populations that are distributed across space. They develop statistical models for the evolution of complex traits, which depend on the combined effects of very many genes. Working with other groups at ISTA, they study the evolution of gene regulation, using a thermodynamic model of transcription factor binding. A substantial component of the group’s work is a long-term study of the hybrid zone between two populations of snapdragons (Antirrhinum) that differ in flower color. This combines detailed field observation with genetic data to estimate population structure and fitness variation over multiple scales, and serves as a test-bed for developing ways to infer selection and demography from genetic data.


Image of Sofia Backlund

Sofia Backlund

PhD Student

Image of Céline Camila Coraly Bräutigam

Céline Camila Coraly Bräutigam

PhD Student

Image of Louise Fouqueau

Louise Fouqueau


Image of Diego Garcia Castillo

Diego Garcia Castillo

PhD Student

Image of Laura Hayward

Laura Hayward


Image of Hila Lifchitz

Hila Lifchitz

PhD Student

Image of Stepan Ovchinnikov

Stepan Ovchinnikov

PhD Student

Image of Arka Pal

Arka Pal

PhD Student

Image of Evgeniya Pravdolyubova

Evgeniya Pravdolyubova

PhD Student

Image of Gemma Puixeu Sala

Gemma Puixeu Sala


Image of Hilde Schneemann

Hilde Schneemann


Image of Daria Shipilina

Daria Shipilina


Image of Rosina Soler

Rosina Soler


Image of Parvathy Surendranadh

Parvathy Surendranadh

PhD Student

Image of Anastasiya Tsyhanova

Anastasiya Tsyhanova

PhD Student

Image of Benjamin Wölfl

Benjamin Wölfl


Current Projects

Evolutionary computation | Evolution of complex traits | Analysis of selection experiments | Understanding genealogies in space and at multiple loci | Inference from DNA sequence | Speciation and hybridization in Antirrhinum


Fouqueau L, Polechova J. 2024. Eco-evolutionary dynamics in changing environments: Integrating theory with data. Journal of evolutionary biology. 37(6), 579–587. View

Barton NH, Sachdeva H. 2024. Limits to selection on standing variation in an asexual population. Theoretical Population Biology. 157, 129–137. View

Barton NH. 2024. Limits to species’ range: The tension between local and global adaptation. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 37(6), 605–615. View

Reynes L, Fouqueau L, Aurelle D, Mauger S, Destombe C, Valero M. 2024. Temporal genomics help in deciphering neutral and adaptive patterns in the contemporary evolution of kelp populations. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 37(6), 677–692. View

Johannesson K, Faria R, Le Moan A, Rafajlović M, Westram AM, Butlin RK, Stankowski S. 2024. Diverse pathways to speciation revealed by marine snails. Trends in Genetics. 40(4), 337–351. View

View All Publications

ReX-Link: Nick Barton


Since 2008 Professor, Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA)
1990 – 2008 Reader and Professor, University of Edinburgh, UK
1982 – 1990 Lecturer and Reader, University College London, UK
1980 – 1982 Demonstrator, Cambridge University, UK
1979 PhD, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

Selected Distinctions

ISI Highly Cited Researcher
2024 International Member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences
2022 ERC Advanced Grant
2016 Schrödinger Lecture, Dublin
2013 Erwin Schrödinger Prize, Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW)
2013 Mendel Medal, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
2009 Linnean Society Darwin-Wallace Medal
2009 ERC Advanced Grant
2006 Royal Society Darwin Medal
2001 President, Society for the Study of Evolution
1998 American Society of Naturalists President’s Award
1994 Fellow, Royal Society of London
1994 David Starr Jordan Prize

Additional Information

Download CV
View Barton group website
Mathematics at ISTA
Barton Group YouTube video

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