Sexual selection moves genes from one lineage to another      Sept 20thpale_line

We have previously shown that male-male competition causes introgression of a suite of sexually selected characters between two lineages of common wall lizards. A new study headed by Yang – published in Molecular Ecology – reveals that about 3% of the genome has moved in the same direction. Interesting, Yang’s analysis shows that this asymmetric gene flow is more recent than the secondary contact itself. What appears to have happened is that the sexually selected characters originated within the Italian lineage quite recently. They then spread northwards, eventually reaching the Ligurian coast and the contact zone with the lizards from western Europe, where they continued to give males a competitive advantage. The next steps are to figure out how this suite of characters arose in the first place, how the characters are kept together as they introgress, and what – if anything – that limits their spread across the landscape.


Workshop on the origins of individuality                           Sept 8thpale_line

The evolutionary process is itself evolving. Perhaps the best example is the origin of new reproductive organizations that are capable of evolving by natural selection. Single celled organisms evolved into multicellular organisms, some of which – leaf cutter ants, for example – appear to have evolved into collectives that deserve the label superorganism.

Last week our group hosted a small workshop to bring together researchers that use different approaches to tackle how and why such transitions in individuality happens. The aim was to share insights from projects within our Templeton-funded grant, and to spread ideas to local Lund researchers. Read more…


Roman Zug joins us!                                                          Sept 7thpale_line

Roman is a theoretical biologist with a PhD from the Humboldt University in Berlin. His PhD research, supervised by Peter Hammerstein, focused on the evolutionary dynamics of symbionts. Now on a DFG fellowship, Roman will explore the evolution of developmental systems that produce discrete phenotypes in different environments – also known as polyphenisms. Welcome to Lund Roman!


Review of Extended Heredity                                            Sept 5thpale_line

Russell Bonduriansky’s and Troy Day’s recent book Extended Heredity explores how changing heredity concepts influence how evolutionary biologists think about evolution, and how we may go about generating and testing predictions. The book has been very well received – including our review in Evolution and another in Science. Russell and Troy discuss some of the more contentious parts in this blog post.


Developmental Bias and Evolution                                 June 30thpale_line

A recurrent theme in evolutionary biology is to contrast natural selection and developmental constraint – two forces pitted against each other as competing explanations for organismal form. A recent Perspective in the journal Genetics explains why this juxtaposition is deeply misleading. There is also a blog about the paper here. Read more…


Amanda Pettersen joins the group!                                 June 24thpale_line

Amanda joins us from Monash University, where she recently completed her PhD under the supervision of Dustin Marshall. Amanda’s PhD thesis explored how metabolic theory can inform microevolutionary patterns of life history variation. Abandoning her marine invertebrates for wall lizards – but keeping her interest in thermal biology – Amanda will now take on the challenge to understand how lizard embryos adapt to the cold. Welcome Amanda!


New papers on thermal biology of reptile embryos         May 28thpale_line

Most reptiles lay eggs in sand or soil, under logs or in rock crevices. These are places where the temperature often fluctuates, sometimes becoming dangerously high or low. The pervasive effects of temperature on biological systems begs the question how embryos respond in the short term, and how populations adapt in the long term. This question is now thoroughly explored in a theme issue of the Journal of Experimental Zoology, with contributions from our group. Read more…


Anolis symposium in Miami                                              April 4thpale_line

The organizers had chosen an appropriate setting for the 2018 Anolis symposium – sunny Miami, Florida, at the Fairchild Botanical Garden that ‘hosts’ six Anolis species. Since Nathalie was working at the museum collection of the University of Florida, she took the opportunity to join for two days of Anolis fun. The meeting was the fifth of its kind, with the first taking place already in 1972. That is an average of one meeting every 9th year! Not very frequent, but it means the symposium already is a classic event. The program was full, but the organizers had scheduled long coffee and lunch breaks to make sure there was enough time to explore the Botanical Garden, in particular to meet our scaly friends, of course. Read more about the sunny trip…


Tobias is awarded the Tage Erlander Prize                    March 20thpale_line

Tobias is the 2018 recipient of the Tage Erlander Prize, awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Science for research in Natural Sciences and Technology, for his “studies in evolutionary biology, in particular phenotypic plasticity”. The prize commemorates Tage Erlander, who was the prime minister of Sweden from 1946 to 1969. In addition to the research prize money, Tobias receives funding for organizing a conference or workshop.


Evolving Evolutionary Biology at the Santa Fe Institute   Feb 23rdpale_line

Researchers from around the world gathered at a snow-covered Santa Fe Institute to discuss the evolutionary implications of extra-genetic inheritance. The workshop – Integrating Development and Inheritance – was organized by Tobias and colleagues as part of the EES research program. For two and a half days the participants – biologists, mathematicians, computer scientists, anthropologists, historians and philosophers of science – presented their work and took part in lively and constructive discussions about the nature of inheritance and why it matters to evolution. Read more…


Two PhD positions available                                                Feb 9thpale_line

We are looking for two students interested in doing their PhD on the evolutionary origin and diversification of social complexity in lizards. The positions are part of a research project funded by the Australian Research Council and the successful candidates will be based either at the University of Tasmania (primary supervisor Geoff While) or at Macquarie University (primary supervisor Martin Whiting). The Lund collaborators are Tobias and Charlie Cornwallis. For more information on the position, please read here, or contact any one of us directly.


Winter is coming!                                                                Feb 8thpale_line

Winter is not really the best time of year in Skåne, unless you really enjoy all those different shades of grey. To get a feeling of a proper Swedish winter, the group packed their warmest clothes (and triple pairs of socks) and headed up to Sunne, where Tobias was born and raised. Winter in Värmland is the real thing – snow-covered forests, ice-covered lakes and the hope of a rare wolf spotting. People from eight nationalities put on their skis – some for the very first time – and headed out to the tracks. Read more…


Live bearing promotes the evolution of sociality              Dec 12thpale_line

(C) Dale BurzacottSome lizards and snakes tend to hang out in family groups, not unlike the more familiar social groups of birds and mammals. Our recent study, headed by Ben Halliwell and Geoff While and published in Nature Communications, show that the evolution of social grouping is much more likely to have happened in lizards and snakes that give birth to live young. There could be a number of reasons that transitions to sociality are more common for live bearing species… Read more…


Evolutionary adaptation to climate                                  Nov 22ndpale_line

A new study published in Evolution – headed by Nathalie – reveals how embryonic gene expression patterns change as non-native lizards adapt to cool climate. Populations adapting independently to the same environment provide important insights into the repeatability of evolution. In the 20th century, common wall lizards (Podarcis muralis) from southern and western Europe were introduced to England, north of their native range. We have previously shown that non-native populations of both lineages have adapted to the shorter season and lower egg incubation temperature by increasing the absolute rate of embryonic development. In this new study, we show that embryos from non-native populations exhibit gene expression profiles consistent with directional selection following introduction… Read more…


    New papers

  • Genomic evidence for asymmetric introgression by sexual selection in the common wall lizard. Mol Ecol, in press
  • A comprehensive database of thermal developmental plasticity in reptiles. Sci Data, in press
  • Developmental plasticity in reptiles: Insights from temperature‐dependent gene expression in wall lizard embryos. J Exp Zool Part A 2018:1-11
  • Signatures of selection in embryonic transcriptomes of lizards adapting in parallel to cool climate. Evolution 72:67-81
  • Social and spatial effects on genetic variation between foraging flocks in a wild bird population. Mol Ecol 26:5807-5819
  • Female reproductive investment in response to male phenotype in wall lizards and its implications for introgression. Biol J Linn Soc 121:876-882