Understanding insect evolutionary responses to shifting climatic gradients

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


    Wide-ranging insects that occupy a variety of environmental conditions are ideal for understanding how and why local adaptation develops, particularly within the dynamic conditions present at shifting range margins. Importantly, neutral genetic structure across large areas can lead to false positive detection of selection signatures, while high gene flow is thought to limit the capacity of species to locally adapt. These considerations make simultaneous analyses of neutral landscape genetic structure and adaptive genetic processes valuable for disentangling common and unique factors that affect how species are responding to changing environments. Here I discuss recent approaches using Restriction site Associated DNA sequencing data (RADseq) to examine the evolutionary responses of wide-ranging insects to contrasting temperature gradients. With concurrent analyses of landscape genetic connectivity and loci exhibiting signatures of environmental selection, I present case studies on two insect species that are subject to effects of climate change across wide latitudinal gradients, including: 1) range expanding damselflies in Europe (Ischnura elegans) and 2) pest grasshoppers within agricultural Australia (Phualacridium vittatum). These studies demonstrate interactions between neutral genetic processes and the environmental and morphological factors that contribute to observed patterns of selection. I further discuss the capacity of the applied approaches to identify the functional relevance of candidate genes for local environmental adaptation. Finally I explore the challenges of interpreting and applying results from these studies to make predictions about species' evolutionary responses under ongoing climate change.

    Period21 Jul 201925 Jul 2019
    Event titleSociety for Molecular Biology and Evolution Meeting 2019: SMBE2019
    Event typeConference
    LocationManchester, United KingdomShow on map
    Degree of RecognitionInternational