We have known for decades now that evolution can occur much faster than Darwin envisioned. For example, Trinidadian guppies Poecilia reticulata translocated from high to low-predation environments evolve locally adapted life-histories, morphology, and coloration within just a few years and handful of generations. (e.g. Reznick et al. 1997). This makes guppies a great system to study evolution in action.
In 2007 we initiated a large evolutionary experiment with David Reznick and an international network of collaborators to study, in real time, how ecological and evolutionary processes interact in nature. The project is centered around four intensively monitored guppy translocations from high to low-predation environments. Since their introduction, guppies have been individually marked and followed monthly through capture-mark-recapture census; genetic samples are taken for pedigree reconstruction, and annual common garden assays performed on a subsample of individuals to evaluate evolutionary change. A variety of ecosystem variables, including biomass estimates of all compartments, have also been regularly monitored before and throughout the experiment in both introduction sites and upstream control sites. Additionally, the project has available 16 small artificial streams to complement our findings through controlled mesocosm experiments.
A common thread to a lot of our questions is to understand the interaction between ecological and evolutionary processes: in other words, how do the effects of evolutionary change on the environment affect the very selection pressures driving that change? Beyond specific study systems like the guppy, we also like to understand well the logic of eco-evolutionary theory through more conceptual and fundamental models. We are particularly interested in understanding the relationship between life-history evolution and population regulation through resource limitation.
Our interest in population biology and other ecological questions, and the fact that our fieldwork is often based on (mainly tropical) islands often gets us to gets us involved in conservation questions. We for example: study the effects of social behaviour on the demography of the endemic Seychelles magpie robin (Copsychus sechellarum); evaluate the effects of viper mimicry on anthropogenic mortality of island smooth snakes (Coronella austriaca); and devise statistical methods to estimate population parameters of shearwaters (Puffinus sp.) and other elusive species.
We collaborate on a variety of other projects including frequency dependent selection in the wood tiger moth (Parasemia plataginis), density dependent cycles in bank voles (Myodes glareolus), or the evolution of reaction norms in a variety of species.
With the above data and facilities, we answer a variety of questions on rapid evolution, population biology, and the ecological effects of evolution at all scales: from the population to the ecosystem. The ultimate goal is to understand how eco-evolutionary interactions can help us understand nature and predict ecological and evolutionary responses to disturbance.
Institut d’écologie et des sciences de l’environnement de Paris (iEES) Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie (UPMC)
Bâtiment A - 7e étage, Case Courrier 237
7, quai Saint Bernard, 75252 PARIS cedex 5, FRANCE
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences University of Jyväskylä
Survontie 9C (Ambiotica)
PO Box 35, FI-40014, FINLAND