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Research themes

Rapid environmental change is currently a major challenge to any population and species. CeMEB aim at understanding the biological mechanisms underlying adaptation of organisms to changing marine environments.

CeMEB focus on three major research themes representing different fundamental and critical components of evolutionary processes:

Theme 1. To what extent traits are inherited and how much genetic variation is present in populations (including the opposing role of plasticity), at population, organism and molecular levels

Theme 2. What biotic and abiotic factors drive adaptational changes in natural populations, at population, organism and molecular levels

Theme 3. What adaptive changes are the result of recent or ongoing environmental perturbations

Integrated in all three themes are Theory building and Modelling.Within the theoretical framework of quantitative genetics the three themes reflect the terms in the classic breeder's equation (Falconer 1960), and the themes also relate to more recent extensions in predictive modelling, e.g. the critical evolutionary rate (Chevin et al. 2010).

Theme 1 reflects trait heritability (h2), theme 2 corresponds to the selection term (S) and theme 3 reflects the response in the breeders equation (R).

The breeders equation nicely illustrates how our different themes interact and how research under these themes contribute to a better understanding of adaptation of populations following environmental change.

CeMEB Research themes

Theme 1 – bases of phenotypic variation

  • Genetic mechanisms of adaptation including local adaptation and ecological speciation.
  • The role of phenotypic plasticity in the evolution of new adaptations

Theme 2 – ecological interactions causing selection

  • Interactions among organisms (predation, pathogens, competition)
  • Interactions with abiotic factors (light, temp, salinity, pH, nutrients)

Theme 3 – potential for evolution and evolutionary rates

  • Rates of evolution in relation to demography and environmental change
  • Environmental structure vs population genetic structure and connectivity



Breeder's equation

R – response
Predicting the phenotypic change in a trait in the next generation

h2 – heritability
Indicates to what extent the phenotypic variation in a trait is genetically determined

S – selection
Describing the strength with which selection sorts among individuals of a population that vary in a specific trait

Read more about 
Breeder's equation on ThePEG blog

Page Manager: Eva Marie Rödström|Last update: 10/15/2012

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