Working Group

Environmental and demographic determinants of natural selection

PI(s): Andrew MacColl (School of Biology)
Adam Siepielski (University of San Diego)
Stephanie Carlson (University California-Berkeley)
Tim Coulson (Imperial College of London)
Start Date: 5-Mar-2012
End Date: 5-Apr-2013
Keywords: natural selection, population ecology, climate change, mathematical modeling, meta-analysis

Understanding how organisms will adapt to changing environments is one of the main challenges facing biology, and evolutionary biologists are uniquely positioned to make important contributions in this area. However, evolutionary biologists have only a poor understanding of how environmental change will affect evolution in natural populations. A better description of the relationship between the environment and natural selection is essential to attaining this understanding, because natural selection underpins adaptive evolution, and its strength and form is influenced by environmental variation. In this Working Group we will quantify two important ways in which the environment may affect selection: (a) how it moulds the distribution of traits that are exposed to selection, through its effect on their expression and development and (b) how it shapes the relationship between phenotype and fitness. We will use recently developed integral projection models and existing long-term and spatially replicated datasets to achieve this synthesis. Our approach will improve our ability to predict the dynamics of adaptation to environmental change, and will increase our fundamental understanding of evolution.