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Home page > Scientific departments > Evolutionary ecology > Teams > Phenotypic variability and adaptation (VPA)

Phenotypic variability and adaptation (VPA)

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Research themes

Our research aims to understand ecological and evolutionary causes of phenotypic variability better.
We investigate the consequences of this phenotypic variability (state variation) for demographic processes which depend on environmental conditions.
We carry out empirical research on different model systems (the common lizard, killifish, guppies, springtails), in the lab, in mesocosms and in the field.
We favour a predictive ecology and therefore develop qualitative and quantitative models linked to the many organisms we study.

Responses and adaptation to Climate Change

We develop demographic models and statistical methods to describe and predict effects of phenotypic variability and of phenotypic variance components on the capacity of organisms to respond and adapt to climate change and to predict the evolution of variability itself.

Memory effects

The life histories lived by individuals in a population will shape their phenotypes reversibly or irreversibly, and can leave traces in their epigenomes. Evolution and adaptation could favour a balanced usage of all these lagged within- and between-generation memory effects as sources of information on future environmental conditions that can be used to produce pre-adapted individuals. On the other hand, increasing phenotypic variability with the purpose of bet-hedging can also use the same variation in individual life history memories as a source of randomness.

Demography

Phenotypic differences lead to demographic differences. We envisage in particular lagged effects such as cohort effects and drift (small populations, colonization, invasions). We study demographic processes in for example small artificial populations of Collembolans and semi-natural populations of the common lizard. Physiologically structured population models and integral projection models are used to understand the interactions between phenotypes and demography better.

Tom VAN DOOREN, CR CNRS, head of VPA team