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Plastic responses to novel environments are biased towards phenotype dimensions with high additive genetic variation

June 20, 2019

The meta-analysis by Dan Noble, Tobias Uller and I, on plastic responses to novel environments is out in PNAS! Theory suggests that populations can evolve by genetic modification of environmentally induced responses. We demonstrate that such plastic responses to novel environments tend to occur along trait dimensions that have high genetic variation. This suggests that selection for or against environmentally induced phenotypes typically will be effective. That organisms respond to environmental novelty and genetic variation in similar ways can be explained by how development is wired. This makes it challenging to distinguish if plasticity or genetic constraints shape evolutionary responses following environmental change.

more information

Read the article here.

Timing of maternal exposure to toxic cyanobacteria and offspring fitness in Daphnia magna

November 20, 2018

Our paper on maternal effects in waterfleas is out! Waterfleas are negatively affected by toxic cyanobacteria, and therefore, mothers are expected to mitigate the negative effects to their offspring. We use a series of experiments to test whether these beneficial maternal effects represent an inheritance system evolved to transmit information about the toxicity of the environment. Our results and meta‐analysis of previous work suggest that although there can be fitness benefits of having a mother exposed to cyanobacteria, these effects are unlikely to be a result of selection for a mechanism that enables transmission of information across generations.

more information

Read a popular science blogpost about this paper here.
Read the article here (open access).

Friends shape the distribution of genetic variation

October 30, 2017

Our paper about the social and spatial effects on genetic variation between foraging flocks is out!

more information

Read a popular science blogpost about this paper here.
Read the article here.

Genetics and development of cooperation

July 13, 2017

The review of the international workshop on "Genetics and Development of Cooperation" held in Bern (Switzerland) last year is out. The meeting aimed at discussing the current progress in this research field and suggesting avenues for future research. In the review we use the major themes of the meeting to synthesize the concepts of development and genetic and non-genetic inheritance of cooperation, to better understand how cooperation evolves and manifests itself in nature.

more information

Read the meeting review here.

New project: developmental bias and evolution

May 21, 2017

This month I start with an exciting new project on the relative importance of developmental bias on evolution. More on this on my research page.

MHC and mate choice

February 10, 2014

The paper "No evidence for MHC class I based disassortative mating in a wild population of great tits" is online. MHC genes - which are important to the immune system - are expected to affect mate preference, because either mates with good or complementary MHC genes would be beneficial for the immunocompetence of the offspring. We did not find any evidence that great tits selected their mates on basis of MHC genes, even not when correcting for the fact that great tits finds their mates locally.

more information

Read the article here.

Trading up: the fitness consequences of divorce in monogamous birds

October 26, 2014

Our (but mainly Antica's) meta analysis on divorce in monogamous birds is published online. Divorce turns out to be an adaptive strategy, because it is triggered by low breeding success and remating improves breeding success.

more information

Read the article here.

Book "Animal social networks" soon available

October 3, 2014

The book "Animal social networks" edited by Jens Krause, Richard James, Daniel Franks, and Darren Croft is available from December onwards. This book provides an overview of the insights that network analysis has provided into major biological processes, and how it has enhanced our understanding of the social organisation of several important taxonomic groups. It brings together researchers from a wide range of disciplines with the aim of providing both an overview of the power of the network approach for understanding patterns and process in animal populations, as well as outlining how current methodological constraints and challenges can be overcome. This book features our (Colin Garroway, Camilla Hinde and me) chapter on "Perspectives on social network analyses of bird populations"!

more information

Visit the OUP website of this book.

The 2014 breeding season has started

April 23, 2014

The birds of the Wytham Woods study population have started breeding again. Read all about it on the Wytham tits twitter page.

more information

Visit the twitter profile of the Wytham study population here.

Paper on fine-scale genetic structure in a wild bird population in print

December 3, 2013

The special section in Evolution on evolutionary landscape genetics is published in print this month, including our paper on the genetic structure in the Wytham great tit population: Fine-scale genetic structure in a wild bird population: the role of limited dispersal and environmentally-based selection as causal factors.

more information

Read the article here.
Relevant links:
The Edward Grey Institute, Oxford

 © text: Reinder Radersma, 2013
 © image: Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be, 2008