Submitted by editor on 23 December 2019.

Allan doing some laboratory work!


The Oikos team has a new Subject Editor! Welcome, Allan Edelsparre! We are happy to share the following interview with Allan, read it and get to know him and his research area better! 

Link to Allan's personal page: http://aedelsparre.wixsite.com/research

Twitter handle: @aedelsparre

1. What's your main research focus at the moment?
My research focus is on understanding genetic and environmental factors that influence and give rise to organismal movement. This interest is driven by ideas of how the distribution and spread of species is intimately linked with biodiversity throughout the history of our planet. Understanding factors that influence movement and how movement feedback on those factors offer unique insights into how organisms evolve and adapt to changing environments.

Picture of marked flies that each carry an allelic variant of a gene of interest. These were released in the mark-recapture experiment mentioned above.
2. Can you describe your research career? Where, what, when?
I was interested in studying marine biology and therefore enrolled at the University of Iceland which offered a unique opportunity to study the natural world in and around the North Atlantic. In Iceland, I was inspired by the ecology and evolution of salmonids in the volcanic freshwater lakes. I finished my BSc. at the University of Iceland in 2006. My interest in the behaviour of fish in general and salmonids, in particular, took me to the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. I did my MSc. at the Mclaughlin lab looking at how individual differences in behaviour are related to dispersal of recently emerged brook charr in the rivers and streams in southern Ontario. I finished my MSc. in 2010. Finally, I joined the Fitzpatrick and Sokolowski lab at the University of Toronto where I had the unique opportunity to study behaviour genetics of Drosophila melanogaster. I use this system to understand how genes influence dispersal in flies and insects and how such genetic effects interact with resources and climate. I use genetic tools unique to Drosophila to manipulate the expression of genes of interest in adult flies and via lab and field experiments I attempt to understand how such differences influence population level dispersal. Some of my more recent work use partial differential equations to investigate how the spread of flies in nature respond to changes in microclimate. This work combines genes and the environment with mathematical theories expressed as ecological diffusion.

3. How come that you became a scientist in ecology?
Every summer when my brother and I were kids our parents took us I camping throughout Sweden and Norway (I am Danish). My parents went out of their way to show us the plants and animals in Scandinavia and to teach us to find rest in the natural world. Although this inspired me to become a scientist, I was initially drawn away from that route fearing that my poor mathematical performances in school would become too much of an obstacle. It was not until I was much older that I decided to face my fears and go back to school, first to get my math skills up to date, and then to move to Iceland where my career finally took the direction I had always wanted (albeit in a new language which I had to learn alongside the biological sciences).
4. What do you do when you're not working?
In my spare time, I am an avid long-distance trail runner. I find that running gives me the kind of quietness that keeps my head clear during busy days. My wife and I also take our daughter canoe camping within Canadian lake systems and often go deep into Algonquin Park in Ontario. My wife and I want to continue the legacy our parents passed onto us and hopefully, our daughter will grow up to value and take care of the environment we exposed her to.

My field assistants as we conduct a mark-recapture experiment of flies in the field.