Dr Sil van Lieshout

Dr Sil van Lieshout


After completing my BEd/BSc degree in Biology (2012), I obtained my MSc Biology in 2015 at the Radboud University Nijmegen (the Netherlands). Here I first studied the distribution of an invasive fish species (Pseudorasbora parva) in Dutch waters and its potential to transfer a pathogen (Sphaerothecum destruens) to native fish species. Secondly, I studied the avian distribution and life-history strategies in Amazonian terra-firme and floodplain forests. In October 2016 I started studying the evolution of senescence, using telomeres, in European badgers (Meles meles) as a PhD-student at the University of Leeds, which I completed in January 2020.

Research interests

My interest was in the evolution of senescence. There is substantial individual variation in the point and the rate at which they senesce - deterioration of performance with age - but our knowledge of the factors that influence this process remains limited.

My PhD focused on how early-life effects can direct the onset and rate of senescence. Using a longitudinal approach, we employed telomere dynamics as a biomarker of senescence as they reflect the physiological consequences of within-individual experiences. This allowed us to determine the early-life environment, parental and additive genetic effects that shape individual telomere dynamics and therefore senescence patterns. This project had the ability to generate critical knowledge on the fundamental evolution of senescence in addition to conservation management decisions.

We had the exciting opportunity to collaborate on the 'Wytham badger project' with the Wildlife Conservation & Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, to use long-term data from a wild population of European badgers (Meles meles) collected since 1987.


  • PhD Evolutionary Ecology
  • MSc Biology/Ecology
  • BEd/BSc Biology

Research groups and institutes

  • Ecology and Evolution