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LEED Informe resumido

Project ID: 249872
Financiado con arreglo a: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
País: United Kingdom

Final Report Summary - LEED (Linking ecological and evolutionary dynamics in theory, in the lab and in the field)

The aim of our the ERC Advanced grant, LEED, was to develop and theory to link ecology and evolution in theory, in the lab and in the field. The way we did this was to develop theory that tracked the distribution of genotypic and phenotypic characters. This allowed us to explore how environmental change, including climate change, impacts genotype frequencies, animal life histories, the distribution of phenotypic traits like body size, and the dynamics of populations.

In order to develop the new theory, we had to identify the key questions asked, and the statistical quantities that were central to answering these questions, that researchers across a range of fields – ecology, life history evolution, population genetics, and quantitative genetics – used. Once we had done this, we needed to work out how the quantities were associated – to understand how ecology and evolution are linked, it is necessary to understand how the key concepts that researchers in different fields use are related. On the face of it, this might sound straightforward, but it raised substantial mathematical challenges. We first had to solve these. We did this by developing new theory.

Having developed the theory, we applied it to a range of systems to address specific hypotheses. The systems included bulb mites in the lab, and wood mice, wolves and sheep in the wild. Our research helped explain why sheep have been getting smaller in size in Scotland, why marmots have been increasing in size, and how different types of environment determine the life history strategies and population dynamics in bulb mites. This work helped showcase the utility of our theory, and allowed us to show how many key quantities in population dynamics, life history theory, quantitative genetics and population genetics are linked. In turn, and most importantly, we demonstrated that ecology and evolution should be studied together, as ecological and evolutionary change necessarily occurs together. Ecology and evolution should not be considered separate fields. The key contribution of our research is to encourage biologists not to study ecology and evolution in isolation, and to develop a very general framework that allows them to study the two fields in tandem.

Over the course of the project, the grant employed seven people. Three post-docs went on to secure lectureship positions – two at Oxford and one in the Netherlands. Another post-doc has taken up a research position at Zurich. Two Ph.D. students completed their theses, and one has started a post-doc in Amsterdam. The other chose to take time off to travel before heading back to look for a post-doc position. The grant produced over 30 papers published in the peer-reviewed literature, including publications in Science, Nature and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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United Kingdom
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