Competitor Adaptation and Climate Change Responses

The contrasting competitive environments that populations of a species face across their range can create mosaics of local adaptation. Locally adapted populations may differ in their responses to climate change when the traits selected by their new environment are correlated with those selected by the historical competitive environment.

I will test these ideas using a combination of greenhouse experiments and mathematical models.

In a first greenhouse experiment, I will estimate the relative fecundity of 15 genotypes of Arabidopsis thaliana when growing in competition with different species. Then, I will use the these data to build a model that projects how a population with equal frequencies of all genotypes would evolve in each competitive environment after a certain number of generations.

In a second greenhouse experiment, I will first assemble Arabidopsis populations that “evolved” in different competitive environments (and thus have different frequencies of the 15 initial genotypes). Then I will subject the different populations to stressful changes in abiotic conditions and assess their ability to persist.