CREAFTalks Ophélie Ronce: "Evolution of plant phenology under a changing climate: insights from various theoretical models"

Friday, April 29, 2022 - 12 to 1 pm

TITLE: "Evolution of plant phenology under a changing climate: insights from various theoretical models"

DATE: Friday 29th April 2022

TIME & FORMAT: form 12 to 1pm CET - Onsite and online.

Seminars will combine online and onsite formats (CREAF, Sala Graus II, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain) but in all cases, talks will be always streamed (not recorded), so they can be followed online.

HOW TO CONNECT: Direct link to Ophélie Ronce's conference.

SUBSCRIPTON FORM: Subscribe to Ophélie Ronce's talk!

"Plant phenology, such as the timing of bud burst in spring for trees or the timing of flowering in many species, shows strong plastic responses to a warming climate. Interestingly, these phenological traits also often show rapid genetic evolution in the context of a changing climate and there has been discussion about the potential of such adaptive changes to mitigate the negative effects of climate change. In this talk I will summarize the findings of several modelling studies conducted in a large collaborative project, which have shed light on this issue. These models have attempted to predict how selection on phenology changes along climatic gradients, which allows assessing whether current phenotypic plasticity will be adaptive in the future. We have also shown that conflicting effects on an earlier flowering phenology on different stages in the life cycle of plants could lead to maladaptive evolution of plant life history in a fast changing climate, which could be easily confounded with an adaptation to warmer temperature. Finally, our more recent work explores the consequences of common assortative mating for phenological traits (e.g. non random mating depending on flowering time) for adaptation to a changing climate. We have shown in particular that assortative mating can facilitate rapid genetic evolution of phenological traits by maintaining a greater genetic variance for these traits in a changing climate than for other adaptive traits under random mating. However, assortative mating and the sexual selection it generate may also have, in the past, shaped the evolution of phenotypic plasticity for phenology, such that the traits expressed in a changing climate deviate from the optimal values favoured by natural selection. These last predictions not only provide new explanations for patterns of phenotypic and genetic variation along environment gradients, but also suggest caution when inferring the adaptive value of plasticity from these patterns".

Ophélie Ronce is a senior CNRS researcher at the Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution de Montpellier. She was recruited as a junior researcher there in 2001, after being a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas. She defended her PhD in Montpellier in 1999. She is broadly interested in feedbacks between population dynamics and evolution, at the heart of questions such as the evolution of life history, the ability of evolution to prevent extinction, evolution of ecological niches and species ranges and the adaptation to global changes. She uses various theoretical models combining quantitative genetics with ecology to address these questions and collaborates with empiricist working on plants (mostly), but also animals and microbes to parametrize models and test their predictions. She has led or co-led two large collaborative projects (5 labs each) on the topic of adaptation to climate change at the French national level, and contributed or led several synthesis and prospective reviews on the role of evolution in climate change research. She was until 2021 President of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology and Vice-President (Non North American) of the Society for the Study of Evolution. She is a member since 2017 of the Scientific Advisory Board of CREAF and since 2022 President of scientific council of the French Foundation for Research on Biodiversity. In 2019 she was an invited scholar at the Peter Wall Institute of Advanced studies in Vancouver (University of British Columbia) and initiated there a new research program on assisted gene flow.




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