Monday 14 May 2018

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 17 May 2018

Biosciences Seminar Series - Spring 2018
17 May 2018 - 1pm - Zoology Museum

Coping with environmental stress in natural populations

Dr Marjo Saastamoinen

(University of Helsinki, Finland)

Photo by Peter Hunt

The Biosciences Seminar Series continues for the Spring Term with a talk by Dr Marjo Saastamoinen from the Department of Biosciences and the Research Centre for Ecological Change at the University of Helsinki (Finland). Marjo is broadly interested in understanding and predicting differences in how individuals in nature respond to, cope and adapt to environmental variation. To do so Marjo a broad range of techniques, from genetic and genomic methods to behavioural observations to mathematical approaches, applied to data from laboratory and long-term study systems in the wild.

Organisms are constantly challenged by environmental variation, for example in resource quality, which subsequently influences life history variation and evolution in natural populations. We are studying life-history responses and underlying coping mechanisms to environmental stress, namely changes in host plant quality induced by drought, in the Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) butterfly. Combining laboratory and field based studies, we show how developmental time as well as adult fitness-related traits are shaped by variation in food quality. We show that some of the responses are developmental stage-dependent, and that coping mechanisms include developmental switches as well as behavioural adjustments in both larvae and adults. These questions are assessed within an ecologically relevant context as environmental conditions from spring to late summer greatly impact the metapopulation dynamics of the butterfly. Working with the large metapopulation of the Glanville fritillary butterfly gives us a unique opportunity to assess the processes operating from genes within individuals all the way to metapopulation-level dynamics.

Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!

For the list of forthcoming seminars see here

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