November 15 2017

12:00 LSB 2320

Seema Sheth
Department of Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley

Adaptation in plant populations, species, and clades


Understanding the processes that promote or constrain adaptation is of fundamental importance in ecology and evolutionary biology. Identifying the factors that shape the adaptive potential of populations, species, and clades can improve our ability to prioritize biological groups of conservation concern, forecast vulnerability to climate change, and predict the spread of invasive species. My research program integrates field and greenhouse experiments, quantitative genetics, spatial and population modeling, and phylogenetic analyses to study the consequences of evolutionary constraints on the abundance, distribution, and diversity of organisms over time and across space. Using western North American monkeyflowers (historically treated in genus Mimulus) as a model system, I first examine how spatial variation in quantitative genetic variation and fitness may impact adaptation to novel conditions, such as those beyond range edges or that have arisen with a changing climate. Second, I present evidence that some monkeyflower species can evolve broad climatic niches and large geographic ranges, while others are narrowly restricted in both climatic and geographic space. Finally, I investigate how climatic niche evolution influences diversification in plant clades that contribute to the exceptional diversity of the California Floristic Province biodiversity hotspot. Together, these results reveal the importance of considering spatial variation in the adaptive potential and fitness of populations across a species’ range, and highlight a significant role of the climatic niche in facilitating range expansion and species diversification.















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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