The great diversity of microorganisms, animals and plants that live on planet Earth are the result of millions of years of evolution. Understanding the different ecological and evolutionary processes and their interaction is key for understanding the origins of such biological diversity. An evolutionary perspective is also crucial for understanding the responses of organisms to environmental changes, as well as the to develop reliable predictive models of the possible effects of global change on biodiversity. In recent years there is growing evidence for rapid evolution of adaptive traits in response to global change, making it urgent to improve our understanding of these processes. However, despite the fundamental link between Ecology and Evolution, scientific studies integrating both disciplines are still infrequent.
At CREAF we combine several approaches and methods to address these challenges using a wide range of organisms as models, from plants and small worms to birds and mammals, with particular emphasis on the evolution of life history traits and behavior.
The main lines of work and experience of CREAF in this field include:
- Genetic basis and architecture of adaptive traits: We analyze the genetic basis and architecture of adaptive traits involved in dispersal, phenology, reproductive effort, and defense against herbivory in plant species.
- Effect of range expansions on the evolution of life history trait: We study the effects of the expansion of ranges of distribution and colonization processes on genetic diversity and the evolution of life history traits.
- Integrating evolution into predictive models: We integrate demographic, ecological and evolutionary information in order to improve predictive models on the consequences of global change.
- Behavioral change: We analyze the changes in behavior of animal species in response to environmental change.
- Behavior and adaptive diversification: We study the role of behavior in the pace of adaptive diversification.
- Animal intelligence: We study the evolution of animal intelligence.
- Invasive species: We analyze the evolutionary processes involved in the success of invasive species.
- Dispersal and movement: We study the evolutionary processes involved in animal movement and dispersal.