Lindell Bromham is an evolutionary biologist, whose work focusses on the tempo and mode of evolutionary change across many timescales and levels of biological organisation, from the role of mutation in shaping genomic change over generations to the processes driving the diversification of lineages over hundreds of millions of years.
In addition to work within evolutionary biology, Lindell has an established track record of interdisciplinary collaborations, ranging across projects with artists, philosophers, linguists, writers, mathematicians, medical researchers and veterinarians. One example of this interdisciplinary work is adapting a biodiversity metric to comparing the relative interdisciplinarity of research proposals, demonstrating that interdisciplinary proposals have consistently lower funding success.
A key research focus of the last 5 years has been adapting analytical methods from evolutionary biology to investigating the patterns and processes of language change. This has led to collaborations with linguists investigating the effect of population size on rates of lexical turnover (sister pairs comparisons), change in language variants over three generations in an Australian language (Wright-Fisher models) and patterns of global language diversity (macroecological analysis). Current work includes identification of factors that increase rates of loss of indigenous languages, both at local and global scales.
Lindell’s work in cultural evolution focusses on shaping interesting and testable questions and developing robust analytical frameworks analyzing cross-cultural data. Broad questions such as “why do hot countries have spicy food?” or “do parasites drive human cultural evolution?” provide a vehicle for exploring the way that evolutionary processes shape patterns of cultural similarities and differences, and developing new ways of testing hypotheses that avoid known statistical traps like “Galton’s problems”.
Prof Bromham can be contacted via email.
More information about Lindell’s work:
|Transdisciplinarity – lead|
- 1,500 endangered languages at high risk, ANU media release, 17 Dec 2021
- ‘More than words’: Australia urged to lift its game in preserving Indigenous languages, The Australian, 17 Dec 2021
- Languages could go extinct at a rate of one per month this century, New Scientist, 17 Dec 2021
- What is the future of the world’s linguistic diversity?, Ecology & Evolution, 16 Dec 2021
- Congratulations to ECDI’s Lindell Bromham, ECDI website, 8 Oct 2021
- Extraordinary scientists in the running for a Eureka moment, ANU Media, 2 Sept 2021
- Lindell Bromham & team named Eureka Prize Finalist, Eureka Prize, 2 Sept 2021
- Myth breakers – Spicy food helps prevent foodborne illness, New Food, 12 Apr 2021
- Spice is nice in many cuisines – but for unexpected reasons, Nature, 12 Feb 2021
- Researchers show actual link between spicy food and hot climates, The Science Times, 8 Feb 2021
- ANU research debunks spicy food myth, Canberra Times, 5 Feb 2021
- Spicy perfection isn’t to prevent infection, Eureka Alert!, 4 Feb 2021
Bromham L, Cardillo M (2019) Origins of biodiversity: an introduction to macroevolution and macroecology. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 9780199608713
Bromham L (2016) An introduction to molecular evolution and phylogenetics. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 9780198736363
Bromham L (In press) Solving Galton’s problem: practical solutions for analysing language diversity and evolution. Historical Linguistics
Bromham, L. 2022. Meaning and Purpose: Using Phylogenies to Investigate Human History and Cultural Evolution. Biological Theory. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13752-022-00401-5
Hua, X., Meakins, F., Algy, C., & Bromham, L. 2022. Language change in multidimensional space: New methods for modelling linguistic coherence. Language Dynamics and Change, 12, 78-123. https://doi.org/10.1163/22105832-bja10015
Bromham, L., Dinnage, R., Skirgård, H., Ritchie, A., Cardillo, M., Meakins, F., Greenhill, S. & Hua, X. 2021. Global predictors of language endangerment and the future of linguistic diversity. Nature, Ecology & Evolution. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-021-01604-y
Bromham L (2020) Comparability in evolutionary biology: the case of Darwin’s barnacles. Linguistic Typology (Special Issue on Comparability), https://doi.org/10.1515/lingty-2020-2056
Roberts SG, Killin A, Deb A, Sheard C, Greenhill SJ, Sinnemäki K, Segovia-Martín J, Nölle J, Berdicevskis A, Humphreys-Balkwill A, Little H, Opie C, Jacques G, Bromham L, Tinits P, Ross RM, Lee S, Gasser E, Calladine J, Spike M, Mann SF, Shcherbakova O, Singer R, Zhang S, Benítez-Burraco A, Kliesch C, Thomas-Colquhoun E, Skirgård H, Tamariz M, Passmore S, Pellard T, Jordan F (2020) CHIELD: the causal hypotheses in evolutionary linguistics database. Journal of Language Evolution lzaa001, https://doi.org/10.1093/jole/lzaa001
Bromham L, Hua X, Algy C, Meakins F (2020) Language endangerment: A multidimensional analysis of risk factors. Journal of Language Evolution 5(1): 75-91, https://doi.org/10.1093/jole/lzaa002
Hua X, Greenhill SJ, Cardillo M, Schneemann H, Bromham L (2019) The ecological drivers of variation in global language diversity. Nature Communications, 10: 2047. PDF
Meakins F, Hua X, Algy C, Bromham L (2019) Birth of a contact language did not favour simplification. Language, 95 95 DOI – 10.1353/lan.2019.0032
Bromham L, Hua X, Cardillo M, Schneemann H, Greenhill SJ (2018) Parasites and politics: why cross-cultural studies must control for relatedness, proximity and covariation. Royal Society Open Science 5: 181100 http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.181100
Greenhill SJ, Hua X, Welsh CF, Schneemann H, Bromham L (2018) Population size and the rate of language evolution: a test across Indo-European, Austronesian and Bantu languages. Frontiers in Psychology, 9:576
Bromham L (2017) Curiously the same: swapping tools between linguistics and evolutionary biology. Biology & Philosophy 32(6):855–886, DOI10.1007/s10539-017-9594-y
Bromham L, Dinnage R, Hua X (2016) Interdisciplinary research has consistently lower funding success. Nature 534: 684–687
Bromham L (2016) Testing hypotheses in macroevolution. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 55: 47-59
Cardillo M, Bromham L, Greenhill SJ (2015) Links between language diversity and species richness can be confounded by spatial autocorrelation. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B282: 20142986.
Bromham L, Hua X, Fitzpatrick TG, Greenhill SJ (2015) Rate of language evolution is affected by population size. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 112(7): 2097–2102