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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…

 

Porto wall lizard meeting                                                   Oct 20thpale_line

The follow-up to the Lund wall lizard meeting took place at CIBIO outside of Porto. We had one and a half day of talks and, above all, stimulating and productive discussions about our ongoing projects. There is a lot of things in the pipeline and – thanks to all great PhD, postdoc and early career researchers working in the different groups – we will likely soon see a number of very exciting papers on evolutionary genomics, polymorphism, colouration, and introgressive hybridization. Yang and Tobias returned home with a long list of to-do’s over winter! Many thanks to Catarina and Miguel for organising it all – is it perhaps Italy next time!?

 

News in brief                                                                      Sep 26thpale_line

Our recent Evolution paper on chemical communication in lizards is accompanied by a nice digest by Pau Carazo and colleagues. Hopefully it will encourage more people to make use of a similar approach. Also online is the paper on conceptual change in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, and there is a blog post about it here. Reinder and colleagues report on a recent meeting on the developmental biology of cooperation in Molecular Ecology. Finally, Tobias was recently elected member of the National Committee for Biology by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The committee’s mission is to support research and education in biology, to build bridges to adjacent disciplines, and to provide advice on matters that concern the biological sciences.

 

Heredity in Evolutionary Theory                                       Sep 22ndpale_line

It may not have escaped your attention that biologists are taking a more inclusive view on heredity these days, regularly referring to epigenetic or behavioural inheritance, for instance. It is often difficult to understand what this means, however, or why it matters. Tobias and Heikki Helanterä take a closer look at heredity in evolutionary theory in a new book from Oxford University Press – Challenging the Modern Synthesis: Adaptation, Development & Inheritance, edited by philosophers of biology Philippe Huneman and Denis Walsh. A pre-print version of the chapter can be found here.

In evolutionary biology, there are arguably four main ways to think of heredity… Read more…

 

Tobias reviews Making Sense of Genes                                Sep 6thpale_line

Making Sense of Genes – the new book by Kostas Kampourakis published by CUP – has been reviewed by Tobias for Frontiers in Genetics. The take home message is ‘It is great, read it!’. If you want to know why, the full review is here.

 

Illiam Jackson joins the group                                             Sep 4thpale_line

It is often pointed out that there is a strange gap between evolutionary biology and palaeontology. Particularly considering that it is hard to find something so obviously relevant to evolution as the fossil record… Anyway, we now hope to reduce this gap thanks to Illiam Jackson. Illiam did his PhD in palaeobiology in Uppsala under the supervision of Graham Budd (although he likes to point out that his first degree was in Biology). He joins us with a passion for morphometrics, and for making development relevant also to the study of fossils. Illiam will continue his work on plasticity and evolution of trilobite-ish arthropods here at Lund, but he will also – together with Nathalie Feiner – explore if developmental plasticity shapes adaptive radiation of lizards. Welcome Illiam!

 

Highlights from ESEB 2017                                               Aug 29thpale_line

This year’s European Society for Evolutionary Biology meeting was held in Groningen. ESEB is always a great opportunity to see old friends, learn new things, and – somewhat jealously! – see the progress on the most famous study systems in evolutionary biology, such as cichlids, Heliconius butterflies, and bird beaks. And progress there was. Among the most memorable were further evidence from the Seehausen group – presented by Joana Meier and others – that hybridization has played a creative role in fish evolution in both African and European lakes, and a tour-de force of Heliconius evolutionary genomics in a plenary by Chris Jiggins (there is a book, not only for butterfly lovers!)… Read more…

 

    New papers

  • 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, in press
  • 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