From macroecological patterns to microevolutionary processes: in-sights from a model plant species
CEFE, Univ Montpellier, CNRS, EPHE, IRD, 34293 Montpellier, France
Link to seminar:
In the pursuit for understanding phenotypic diversity, comparative approaches have been developed in trait-based ecology as a way to identify general laws of adaptation and diversification. However, the quest for general laws in trait-based ecology has steered research priorities toward comparing global patterns of trait (co)variation across a large numbers of species. Yet, the growing awareness that evolution and ecology act in similar timescales calls for investigating the dynamics of ecological processes at the population, community, or ecosystem levels and evolutionary changes in organismal traits. To this end, the highly cosmopolitan plant Arabidopsis thaliana is a powerful model to link global patterns of phenotypic variation to intraspecific trait variability, genetic variation, and adaptation to contrasted environments. In my talk, I will synthesize recent findings made on this model species at the intersection of trait-based ecology and evolutionary biology. More specifically, I will show (1) how ecological strategies vary among ecotypes, (2) how functional trade-offs shape the demographic history of the species across its distribution range, and (3) how the mechanisms of functional trait evolution can be tested experimentally. Overall, I argue that an approach combining hypotheses from trait-based ecology with tools from genetics and evolutionary biology can provide important pieces for addressing questions related to plant phenotypic diversity, ecological specialization, and adaptation.