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Evolution in wild populations

Project description

Evolution in changing environments

How are environmental changes, such as climate change or disease outbreaks, shaping the evolution in wild animal populations? The ERC-funded EVOWILD project will combine advanced genomic and statistical techniques with globally distributed studies to build understanding of the evolutionary and ecological dynamics of natural populations. The project will use seven exceptional long-term studies of wild populations that experience environmental change. EVOWILD will understand variation in fitness and current rates of evolutionary adaptation in wildness, determine the effects of environmental variation on natural selection and adaptation, and assess the evolutionary genetic adaptation effects on the dynamics of phenotypic traits and population numbers.

Objective

The impact of global environmental change on natural populations is both an urgent concern, and an invaluable opportunity to understand how environmental variation shapes evolutionary and ecological processes. This project will combine state-of-the-art genomic and statistical technology with globally distributed studies to build a ground-breaking new understanding of the evolutionary and ecological dynamics of wild populations. At the same time, it will deliver much-needed application of both long-standing and new evolutionary theory. My track record of building the field of wild quantitative genetics together with the new multi-species consortium I have created, means I am uniquely positioned to exert powerful leverage over core questions. My project has three major objectives: (1) to understand variation in fitness and current rates of evolutionary adaptation in the wild, including contributions from social evolution; (2) to determine the effects of environmental variation on natural selection and adaptive evolutionary responses; and (3) to provide comprehensive assessment of the contribution of evolutionary genetic adaptation vs ecological responses to the dynamics of phenotypic traits and population numbers. It will do so using seven exceptional long-term studies of wild mammal populations from across the world: red deer, bighorn sheep, Soay sheep, spotted hyaenas, meerkats, eastern grey kangaroos and Tasmanian devils, all experiencing environmental change such as the effects of climate or disease. The multi-species consortium will enable valuable insight into the generality of the results, which can inform the management of wild populations. The project will also develop new analytical approaches, bringing together the latest quantitative genetic and genomic developments with hierarchical population modelling, which will have application across a broad range of systems.

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Coordinator

THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
Net EU contribution
€ 1 818 417,00
Address
Old college, south bridge
EH8 9YL Edinburgh
United Kingdom

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Region
Scotland Eastern Scotland Edinburgh
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)