The Evolutionary Ecology of Colonization & Invasion

How do species’ interactions with their abiotic and biotic environment evolve? Can adaptation to new environments encountered during range expansion or climate change alter the persistence, abundance, or spread of an organism? These questions are fundamental to understanding how distribution and abundance change over short timescales, and play a special role in understanding the success of introduced (a.k.a. non-native / exotic / invasive) species.

We study the genetics and rapid evolutionary dynamics of ecologically important traits, using a variety of genetic approaches (quantitative, molecular, and genomic) in combination with field experiments and observations.

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Clockwise from top-left: invasive yellow starthistle in the field, undergraduate H Sounart and postdoc P Lu-Irving sampling for microbial diversity (photo: J Harencar), undergrad SW Smith phenotyping evolving plant traits, bioinformatic script for genomic analyses, heatmap of microbiome composition, undergrad L Gomez preparing DNA samples for sequencing (photo: B Barker), and a scan for genes that show evidence of adaptive evolution in invading populations.

Clockwise from top-left: invasive yellow starthistle in the field, undergraduate H Sounart and postdoc P Lu-Irving sampling for microbial diversity (photo: J Harencar), undergrad SW Smith phenotyping evolving plant traits, bioinformatic script for genomic analyses, heatmap of microbiome composition, undergrad L Gomez preparing DNA samples for sequencing (photo: B Barker), and a scan for genes that show evidence of adaptive evolution in invading populations.