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K-State Today

September 20, 2019

Biology seminar Sept. 23: 'Predator-induced mechanisms shaping integrated phenotypes across timescales'

Submitted by Michi Tobler

Laura Stein, assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma, will present her research "Predator-induced mechanisms shaping integrated phenotypes across timescales" as part of the Division of Biology Seminar Series at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, in 221 Ackert Hall.

Stein will talk about how organisms integrate information about their environment to generate complex phenotypes, and how these interactions influence evolutionary processes. If phenotypic plasticity can allow organisms to persist under new conditions, it may enable organisms to colonize and adapt to novel environments. Yet genetic and phenotypic covariation underlying complex phenotypes may constrain reaction norms and thus evolutionary trajectories. She will report a series of studies examining how mechanisms of divergence and plasticity may aid colonization of novel environments in two systems renowned for their rapid adaptation: threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata). First, Stein will show evidence for how transgenerational plasticity might have contributed to the adaptive radiation of sticklebacks. Second, she will evaluate whether genetic and phenotypic correlations constrain life history, morphological, and behavioral divergence across high- and low-predation populations of guppies. Altogether, her results suggest that plasticity within — and across generations and flexibility in trait covariances can facilitate adaptive evolution/play an important role in the colonization of novel environments.

If you would like to visit with Stein, please contact Michi Tobler at tobler@k-state.edu