Rosemary Grant with her husband Peter Grant has been studying Darwin?s finches on the Galápagos islands since 1973. The fieldwork is designed to understand the causes of an adaptive radiation. It combines analyses of archipelago-wide patterns of evolution with detailed investigations on two islands, Genovesa and Daphne. By integrating ecology, behavior and genetics, they have revealed how species are reproductively and ecologically isolated, and the causes and evolutionary consequences of rare episodic hybridization. Three mechanisms of speciation have been identified. In collaboration with other investigators, they have estimate phylogenetic relationships among the species of finches and their relatives, identified molecular mechanisms involved in the development of beaks and provided genomic details of evolution in contemporary as well as historical time. The research has been published in many research papers and three books, most recently “How and Why Species Multiply” (2008) and “40 years of Evolution” (2014). Rosemary Grant is Senior Research Scholar Emerita at Princeton University. She received her early training at Edinburgh University and Uppsala University, and taught at Princeton University.

Research Interests

We have discovered how an exchange of genes through hybridization can lead to a collapse of two species into one under some circumstances, and to the formation of a new species under other conditions. Since these two island environments are entirely natural, never having been disturbed by humans, the study provides a model of evolution in contemporary time that helps to understand biological diversification over geological time. Some of the outstanding questions we are pursuing with our collaborator, Leif Andersson, are concerned with the effects of introgressive hybridization on the underlying genetic composition of known changes in beak morphology and body size.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology