Important features of modern ecologies are the extreme mobility of species across a vast geography and the rapid rate of environmental change. How are species able to expand their ranges over heterogeneous landscapes? How are they able to respond to changing environmental conditions? Our research addresses evolutionary processes in variable ecological environments. Genotype-environment interactions are central to these processes.
A single genotype can alter its phenotype in response to the environment, through the process of phenotypic plasticity. We study environment-dependent phenotypic expression: what genetic, epigenetic, and developmental mechanisms enable environment-dependent phenotypes; what is the adaptive significance of phenotypic plasticity, and what are its evolutionary and demographic consequences?
Organisms can also alter the environment they experience, through the processes of habitat selection and niche construction. How do plants alter the environment they experience? How does this ability influence life-history expression, population demography, and evolutionary dynamics? To what extent does the environment that plants experience have a genetic basis?
We use a variety of plant systems to study the genetic and ecological basis of adaptation, especially as influenced by genotype-environment interactions.