Dr Jay Biernaskie

BBSRC Future Leader Fellow

Research Area

Evolutionary ecology, social behaviour, Darwinian agriculture

Research Description

I am an evolutionary biologist with interests in adaptation and social behavior. Using Arabidopsis, I am searching for naturally-occurring plant traits that benefit neighbouring conspecifics and thereby improve the productivity of local groups. A major aim of this work is to identify the underlying genes for such potentially cooperative traits. Understanding the genetic basis of cooperation among plants in nature will lead to novel ideas for improving agricultural crops.


Biernaskie, J.M. & Foster, K.R. 2016. Ecology and multilevel selection explain aggression in spider colonies. Ecology Letters. doi:10.1111/ele.12622

Inglis, F.R.*, Biernaskie, J.M.*, Gardner, A. & Kummerli, R. 2016. Presence of a loner strain maintains cooperation and diversity in well-mixed bacterial communities. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 283: 20152682.

* co-first authors

Biernaskie, J.M. & West, S.A. 2015. Cooperation, clumping, and the evolution of multicellularity. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 282: 20151075.

Pizzari, T., Biernaskie, J.M., & Carazo, P. 2015. Inclusive fitness and sexual conflict: How population structure can modulate the battle of the sexes. BioEssays 37: 155-166.

Biernaskie, J.M., Grafen, A. & Perry, J.C. 2014. The evolution of index signals to avoid the cost of dishonesty. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281: 20140876.

Biernaskie, J.M. West, S.A., & Gardner, A. 2013. Multi-coloured greenbeards, bacteriocin diversity, and the rock-paper-scissors game. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 26: 2081-2094.

Biernaskie, J.M., West, S.A., & Gardner, A. 2011. Are greenbeards intragenomic outlaws? Evolution 65: 2729-2742.

Biernaskie, J.M. 2011. Evidence for competition and cooperation among climbing plants *. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 278: 1989-1996.

Biernaskie, J.M. 2010. The origin of gender dimorphism in animal-dispersed plants: disruptive selection in a model of social evolution. American Naturalist 175: E134-E148.

Biernaskie, J.M., Walker, S.C. & Gegear, R.J. 2009. Bumble bees learn to forage like Bayesians *. American Naturalist 174: 413-423.

Biernaskie, J.M. & Gegear, R.J. 2007. Habitat assessment ability of bumble bees implies frequency-dependent selection on floral rewards and display size. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 274: 2595-2601.

Biernaskie, J.M. & Elle, E. 2007. A theory for exaggerated secondary sexual traits in animal-pollinated plants. Evolutionary Ecology 21: 459-472.

Biernaskie, J.M. & Elle, E. 2005. Conditional strategies in an animal-pollinated plant: size-dependent adjustment of gender and rewards. Evolutionary Ecology Research 7: 901-913. 

Biernaskie, J.M. & Cartar, R.V. 2004. Variation in rate of nectar production depends on floral display size: a pollinator manipulation hypothesis. Functional Ecology 18: 125-129.

Biernaskie, J.M., Cartar, R.V. & Hurly, T.A. 2002. Risk-averse inflorescence departure in hummingbirds and bumble bees: could plants benefit from variable nectar volumes? Oikos 98: 98-104.