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Friday, November 2, 2018 at 12:20pm
I am an evolutionary geneticist focusing on the maintenance of reproductive variation, the consequences of reproduction on the process of speciation, and the evolution of sex in natural populations. I'm interested in the variation both in reproductive modes (sex/asex, selfing/outcrossing, cleistogamy) and reproductive traits (flowers, fruits, or reproductive traits in animals).
I am also interested in the consequences of hybridization and polyploidy in plant species complexes.
Abstract: One of the fundamental questions in evolutionary biology is: How is variation maintained? In flowering plants, variation in reproductive modes and traits is mediated by both the abiotic and biotic environment. A key example of variable reproductive modes is the coexistence of sexual and asexual organisms. The mustard genus Boechera provides a powerful system for studying the ecology and evolution of sexual/asexual coexistence, free from the confounding effects of hybridization and polyploidy. Across natural populations, asexual reproduction is associated with habitat disturbance and environmental variability. Within populations, asexual lineages have reduced mortality, but experience higher herbivory later in the growing season, suggesting that sexual/asexual coexistence is permitted by a balance between abiotic conditions and biotic interactions. This work offers the first comprehensive study of the selective patterns and agents maintaining sexual/asexual coexistence in natural plant populations.