BEECOEVO
Project duration: 
Jan 2022 to Dec 2023

BEECOEVO will demonstrate causal connection between specific gene changes and downstream modifications of entire biological communities, thereby delivering fundamental insights into the role of behavior in the first stages of evolutionary adaptation to new selective pressures.

Introduction

The role of behavior in evolution remains one of most controversial issues in evolutionary biology. Despite the long-held assumption that behavior is pivotal in determining how animals respond to new selective pressures, how behavior in itself evolves remains largely unproven. Consequently, the evolutionary dynamics of adaptive behaviors and how these dynamics modify ecological interactions remain virtually unknown. Thanks to recent advances in evolutionary theory, the successful application of manipulative experiments in nature, and cutting-edge genomic tools, behavioral ecologists have never before been in such a good position to answer these questions.
 
BEECOEVO will take advantage of these advances to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the adaptive dynamics of risk-taking behavior going from genes to ecosystems. Specifically, I will study predator-prey relationships in wild populations of lizards to answer three pivotal questions concerning the role of behavior in adaptation to new selection pressures.

Action

  • First, we will identify the genetic underpinnings of risk-taking behavior using a unique experimental setup in natural conditions to tackle predator-driven behavioral evolution by natural selection.
  • Second, we will experimentally unravel the cascading downstream consequences of these behavioral shifts on the functioning of entire biological communities.
  • Third, we will prove the potential of natural selection vs. behavioral flexibility to restore anti-predatory behavior on populations of a Mediterranean island endemism that had evolutionarily lost its ability to effectively respond to predators and is currently threatened by a rapidly spreading invasion of predatory snakes.

Overall, BEECOEVO will demonstrate causal connection between specific gene changes and downstream modifications of entire biological communities, thereby delivering fundamental insights into the role of behavior in the first stages of evolutionary adaptation to new selective pressures.

Ayuda EUR2021-122000 financiada por MCIN/AEI /10.13039/501100011033
 
  • BEECOEVO