Jessica Slove Davidson

Jessica Slove Davidson

Director of Studies

Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Biology Education
Telephone 08-16 40 75
Visiting address Svante Arrhenius väg 20 C
Room E 315d
Postal address Institutionen för biologisk grundutbildning 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Answers questions on

  • Admission to Master's programmes
  • Degree projects
  • Studies at advanced level


Studied biology at Stockholm University. Studied a year abroad at Leeds University, England, as an Erasmus exchange. I carried out my degree project at the Swedish Museum of Natural History on the systematics of waders, Charadriiformes.

My PhD was on the subject of how host plant interactions in butterflies, Nymphalidae, affects their geographic distribution and diversity. The work was done in Niklas Janz group at the Department of Zoology, Stockholm University.

I then worked for two years on a project together with KTH and Stockholm Acedemic Forum aiming to increase worklife connection in our education. In parallell I coordinated a blended learning course covering the basics in biology for school teachers.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2012. Jessica Slove Davidson, Niklas Janz, Tommi Nyman.

    Our world is changing rapidly and factors like urbanisation, changed agricultural practices and climate change are causing losses in butterfly diversity. It is therefore of importance to understand the source of their diversity. Given the remarkable diversity of herbivorous insects compared to their non-herbivorous sister groups, changes in host use have been implicated as a promoter of speciation. This thesis looks at geographical aspects of host range evolution and the plasticity of host use. We show that butterflies in the subfamily Nymphalinae that feed on a wide range of host plants have larger geographic ranges than species with narrower host ranges. Although tropical butterflies appear to be more specialised than temperate species, this effect is lost when controlling for the differences in geographic range. Geographic variation in host plant use within Polygonia faunus, related to morphologically distinct subspecies, did not show any genetic differentiation. This suggests that the observed variation in host plant use is a plastic response to environmental differences. Reconstructing host use for the Polygonia-Nymphalis and Vanessa group shows that plasticity is also important for understanding host use at the level of butterfly genera. Using unequal transition costs and including larval feeding ability revealed that frequent colonisations of the same plant genus can often be explained by non-independent processes, such as multiple partial losses of host use, recolonisation of ancestral hosts, and parallel colonisations following a preadaptation for host use. These processes are further reflected in the conservative use of host plant orders within the butterfly family Nymphalidae. Few taxa feed on more than one host plant order, and these expansions occur at the very tips of the tree, which we argue is evidence of the transient nature of generalist host use. These insights improve our understanding of how host range evolution may promote diversification.

Show all publications by Jessica Slove Davidson at Stockholm University

Last updated: August 31, 2020

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