Experimental Evolution of Communities
Our group uses theoretical and experimental approaches to understand the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of species interactions and disease. We integrate eco-evolutionary processes in dynamical landscapes, into which we incorporate issues such as spatio-temporal variation in environmental conditions, disturbance and connectivity (dispersal), speciation and reproductive interference and virulence evolution. We also study cancer evolution, the evolution of social strategies and innovations.
Our main experimental systems are protozoan model species (Tetrahymena, Paramecium) and their natural enemies (Didinium, Holospora), and spider mites from the Tetranychus species complex and their host plants. We use experimental evolution with all these systems to see how species interactions impact life-history trait evolution. We are also starting field work with both (the protozoan and spider mite) systems, that will be coupled with laboratory experiments to enhance understanding about species interactions in natural populations.