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Evolution of phenotypic plasticity in predator-prey systems

Research project Phenotypic plasticity is the ability of an organism to express different phenotypes in response to its environments. In this project I study the evoltion of phenotypic plasticity.

The goal of this application is to investigate phenotypic plasticity’s role in diversification and adaptation of organisms, which has been greatly underestimated. First, we do not know if phenotypic plasticity slows down genetic adaptations to new environments or if it facilitates genetic adaptation and diversification to new environments. Second, we do not know if we should protect genetically distinct organisms or protect unique environments where expression of alternative phenotypes (phenotypic plasticity) may result in new genetic adaptations. A predator-prey system consisting of fish and dragonflies where fish predators induce morphological defense (phenotypic plasticity) in some species and not in others, will be used as a model system.

Project overview

Project period:

2007-01-01 2009-12-31

Funding

Finansår , 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020

huvudman: Frank Johansson, finansiar: Vetenskapsrådet, y2003: , y2004: , y2005: , y2006: , y2007: , y2008: , y2009: , y2010: , y2011: , y2012: , y2013: , y2014: , y2015: , y2016: , y2017: , y2018: , y2019: , y2020: ,

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Faculty of Science and Technology

Research subject

Biological sciences, Ecology

Project description

A predator-prey system where predators induce morphological defense (phenotypic plasticity) in some species and not in others within a genus, will be used to answer the following general questions. 1) Do the levels of phenotypic plasticity change within a species as a result of environmental variability? 2) Do the levels of phenotypic plasticity change among species as a result of environmental variability? 3) How does the phylogenetic history of phenotypic plasticity look like? 4) Does phenotypic plasticity facilitate colonization of new environments and evolutionary change which has the potential to produce a peak shift in the adaptive landscape (genetic assimilation)? 5) Do species with inducible defense (phenotypic plasticity) have a broader distribution when it comes to habitat selection? Answering these questions is important because phenotypic plasticity's role in the diversification of organisms has been greatly underestimated.