Simone Des Roches, PhD

intraspecific variation | eco-evo dynamics | rapid adaptation | ecomorphology | conservation

Postdoctoral Researcher


Urban Ecology Lab

College of Built Environments

University of Washington


Institute for the Study of Ecological & Evolutionary Climate Impacts

University of California, Santa Cruz

contact me


I have recently joined the Urban Ecology and Evolution Network led by Marina Alberti at the University of Washington. I will be examining the complexities of eco-evolutionary dynamics in urban environments and exploring the relationships between urbanization and climate change.

Stay tuned!


Climate Change

California's estuaries vary dramatically with climate, from clear rushing rapids during heavy rain, to densely-vegetated ponds during dry weather. Threespine Stickleback have adaptations for each habitat. Those with more plates are better swimmers in fast, clear water; those with fewer plates maneuver better in slow, vegetated water.


In the 1970s & 80s, Baumgartner and Bell showed that stickleback had more plates in wetter northern estuaries, and fewer in drier southern estuaries.

I resurveyed Californian estuaries, comparing current and past stickleback plate numbers. I showed that the latitudinal pattern still holds, and confirmed its strong relationship to precipitation, temperature, and habitat features like streamflow. I also showed that as climate change has brought hotter and drier weather, stickleback have generally evolved fewer plates.

My work in California estuaries is done in collaboration with

the Palkovacs Lab at UC Santa Cruz.

Des Roches, S, Bell, MA, Palkovacs, EP. 2019.

Climate-driven habitat change causes evolution in Threespine Stickleback. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.14892

Just Published!


Recent Colonization

The geologically unique dunes of White Sands, NM are home to three lizard species that independently evolved "blanched" colouration after colonizing < 6000 years ago.


I have shown how these lizards differ ecologically (what they eat, how they escape from predators) from their darker counterparts living off the dunes, and how this affects the White Sands food web.

I have also demonstrated the complexities of ongoing natural selection on two of the three species living on the White Sands ecotone.

My work at White Sands is done with collaborators from

the Rosenblum Lab at UC Berkeley

updated 28 July 2020