Evolutionary Ecology of Individual Differences
Variation among individuals within populations is the fuel of evolution. To understand how life evolves, it is therefore necessary to study what generates variation, what maintains, and what reduces it. Natural selection reduces variation. However, any biologist who spends a bit of time observing the natural world will note the great diversity of individuals that make up any given population. It is now known that individuals differ in their morphology, their behaviour, their physiology, their phenology and their life history. The maintenance of such diversity in populations exposed to natural selection is still puzzling for biologists.
In our laboratory we are interested in the importance of individual differences in an ecological and evolutionary context. More particularly we study the implications of personality differences, or the consistent behavioural differences observed among individuals, on the ecology and evolution of the population over a short time scale. We examine what makes individuals different, for example their genetic differences, the influence of their parents or conspecifics on their development, and the environment that they experience early in their life. We analyze how these behaviours are associated with each other and with other traits. We finally explore how individual differences lead to different reproductive output or a different survival, and how these differences can translate into genetic changes over time or can maintain the behavioural diversity in the population.
Joshua M. Miller, Dany Garant, Charles Perrier, Tristan Juette, Joël W. Jameson, Eric Normandeau, Louis Bernatchez & Denis Réale. Ecology and Evolution. Heredity
Indirect genetic and environmental effects on behaviors, morphology, and life‐history traits in a wild Eastern chipmunk population. F Santostefano, H Allegue, D Garant, P Bergeron, D Réale. Evolution.
Hélène Dion-Phénix, Anne Charmantier, Christophe de Franceschi, Geneviève Bourret, Steven W Kembel, Denis Réale.
The ISME Journal.
News from the Lab
Applications sought for a PhD project on "habitat use and individual features in three populations of blue tits living in contrasting habitats”
Deadline for applications: January 1st 2023
The blue-tit team is in Corsica. After two years of absence caused by the pandemic, students from my lab, Hélène Dion-Phénix (MSc) Gabrielle Gingras and François-Xavier Habimana (BSc), are back in Corsica with the rest of the team to find the blue tits.
A new paper by Elouana Gharnit has just appeared in the prestigious journal American Naturalist. She presents her thesis results on the individual niche specialization of chipmunks.