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School of Environment and Life Sciences

Dr Allan McDevitt

Lecturer in Global Ecology and Conservation


I obtained my BSc (Honours) in Zoology in University College Dublin in 2003.  I began my PhD in the same university that same year, using genetics to study the origins of Irish mammals.  After completing my PhD in 2008, I undertook a short post-doc in Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland focussing on the origins and hybridisation in Irish deer. I then spent two years in the University of Calgary in Canada, working on the phylogeography and landscape genetics of caribou and elk. I then spent 2011 in the Mammal Research Institute in Poland on the phylogeography and landscape genetics of mustelids and voles.

I was then awarded a Government of Ireland postdoctoral fellowship to study the range dynamics, ecological consequences and adaptation of an invasive shrew in Ireland. After completing this fellowship, I spent 2014-2015 as a visiting researcher between the Mammal Research Institute in Poland and the University of Leuven in Belgium working on population genomics of the red fox.

I was appointed as lecturer in Global Ecology and Conservation in the University of Salford in 2016.


I am module leader for Animal Evolution and Zoological Research Skills (both Level 5), and Invasions and Infections (Level 7). I contribute teaching to Biological Principles (Level 3), Molecular Genetics (Level 5), Zoo Animal Management (Level 5), Habitat Conservation and Restoration (Level 6), and Strategies for Mitigating Global Threats (Level 7). 

Research Interests

I am primarily interested in using molecular techniques to study micro/macro-evolutionary and ecological processes, essentially trying to understand how populations and species are structured both spatially and temporally. The vast majority of my research has focused on mammals, from larger ungulates and carnivores, right down to rodents and shrews. At present, I am mainly working in four core areas:

1. Adaptation and ecology of invasive species.

Species that have been introduced recently represent ideal models to study and understand the genetics of invasive and/or expanding populations and how these species become adapted to new environments over relatively short periods of time in terms of both genotype and phenotype, and how they rapidly impact native species/populations. I am currently working with collaborators on genomic and phenotypic changes at different points of the greater white-toothed shrew (Crocidura russula) invasion in Ireland and its impacts on the indigenous pygmy shrew (Sorex minutus).

2. Range-wide adaptation in mammals.

Adaptation to the local environment is key to the long-term persistence of populations. This is particularly relevant in the 21st century as human disturbance and climate change become important drivers of rapid evolutionary change. I am currently investigating range-wide adaptation to different environmental variables in red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in Europe using next-generation sequencing to identify important regions of the genome under selection in particular environments.

3. Landscape genetics/genomics and spatial ecology.

Landscape genetics has changed the way we think about how gene flow occurs in complex landscape and environments. We are investigating how habitat selection and dispersal behaviour in large herbivores in the Rocky Mountains of western Canada (elk Cervus elaphus and caribou) and mammals in Poland (weasels Mustela nivalis, red foxes and voles Microtus sp.) influences gene flow.

4. Phylogeography and colonization history

Phylogeography has revealed much of how species responded to past environments over the millenia. While we certainly know a lot about the effects of past climate fluctuations, what is less certain is what effects these have had in determining the current distribution of species and genetic lineages. We are investigating the roles of more northern refugia and potential adaptation stemming from isolation in certain refugia in multiple European and North American mammals using genomics and ancient DNA.

Qualifications and Memberships

I serve as a Subject Editor (Genomics, Genetics and Conservation) for Mammalian Biology (2015-). I have previously served as an Associate Editor for Mammal Research (2011-2017) and a Guest Editor for Conservation Genetics (2012-2013).

I am a member of the Mammal Society, British Ecological Society, European Society for Evolutionary Biology, Genetics Society and the Irish Wildlife Trust.


Gubili C, Mariani S, Weckworth BV, Galpern P, McDevitt AD, Hebblewhite M, Nickel B, Musiani M (2017) Environmental and anthropogenic drivers of connectivity patterns: a basis for prioritizing conservation efforts for threatened populations. Evolutionary Applications 10: 199-211.

Herman JS, Johannesdottir F, Jones EP, McDevitt AD, Michaux JR, White TA, Wojcik JM, Searle JB (2017) Post-glacial colonization history of Europe by the wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus: evidence of a northern refugium and dispersal with humans. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 120: 313-332.

Nally JE, Arent Z, Bayles DO, Hornsby RL, Gilmore C, Regan S, McDevitt AD, Yearsley JM, Fanning S, McMahon BJ (2016) Emerging infectious disease implications of invasive mammalian species: the greater white-toothed shrew (Crocidura russula) is associated with a novel serovar of pathogenic Leptospira in Ireland. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 10: e0005174.

Gargan LM, Cornette R, Yearsley JM, Montgomery WI, Paupério J, Alves PC, Butler F, Pascal M, Tresset A, Herrel A, Lusby J, Tosh DG, Searle JB, McDevitt AD (2016) Molecular and morphological insights into the origin of the invasive greater white-toothed shrew (Crocidura russula) in Ireland. Biological Invasions 18: 857-871.

Stojak J, Ruczynska I, Searle JB, Wójcik JM, McDevitt AD (2016) Contrasting and congruent patterns of genetic structuring in Microtus voles in Poland using museum specimens. Mammal Research 61: 141-152.

Vega R, McDevitt AD, Kryštufek B, Searle JB (2016) Ecogeographical patterns of morphological variation in pygmy shrews within a phylogeographic and continental-and-island framework. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 119: 799-815.

McDevitt AD, Montgomery WI, Tosh DG, Lusby J, Reid N, White TA, McDevitt CD, O’Halloran J, Searle JB, Yearsley JM (2014) Invading and expanding: range dynamics and ecological consequences of the greater white-toothed shrew (Crocidura russula) invasion in Ireland. PLoS ONE 9: e100403.

Frantz AC, McDevitt AD, Pope LC, Kochan J, Davison J, Clements CF, Elmeros M, Molina-Vacas G, Ruiz-Gonzalez A, Balestrieri A, Van Den Berge K, Breyne P, Do Linh San E, Argen EO, Suchentrunk F, Schley L, Kowalczyk R, Kostka BI, Cirovic D, Sprem N, Colyn M, Ghirardi M, Racheva V, Braun C, Oliveira R, Lanszki J, Stubbe A, Stubbe M, Stier N, Burke T (2014) Revisiting the phylogeography and demography of European badgers (Meles meles) based on broad sampling, multiple markers and simulations. Heredity 113: 543-553.

McDevitt AD, Oliver MK, Piertney SB, Szafranska PA, Konarzewski M, Zub K (2013) Individual variation in dispersal associated with phenotype influences fine-scale genetic structure in weasels. Conservation Genetics 14: 499-509.

Weckworth BV, Musiani M, DeCesare NJ, McDevitt AD, Hebblewhite M, Mariani S (2013) Preferred habitat and effective population size drive landscape genetic patterns in an endangered species. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 280: 20131756.

Carden RF, McDevitt AD, Zachos FE, Woodman PC, Rose H, Monaghan NT, O’Toole P, Campana MG, Bradley DG, Edwards CJ (2012) Phylogeographic, ancient DNA, fossil and morphometric analyses reveal ancient and modern introductions of a large mammal: the complex case of red deer (Cervus elaphus) in Ireland. Quaternary Science Reviews 42: 74-84.

McDevitt AD, Vega R, Rambau RV, Yannic G, Herman JS, Hayden TJ, Searle JB (2011) Colonization of Ireland: revisiting ‘the pygmy shrew syndrome’ using mitochondrial, Y chromosomal and microsatellite markers. Heredity 107: 548-557.

McDevitt AD, Mariani S, Hebblewhite M, DeCesare NJ, Morgantini L, Seip D, Weckworth BV, Musiani M (2009) Survival in the Rockies of an endangered hybrid swarm from diverged caribou (Rangifer tarandus) lineages. Molecular Ecology 18: 665-679.

Searle JB, Kotlík P, Rambau RV, Marková S, Herman JS, McDevitt AD (2009) The Celtic fringe of Britain: insights from small mammal phylogeography. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 276: 4287-4294.

For a full list, see: