Evolution 2017 conference

Centre members Dustin Marshall, Keyne Monro, Amanda Pettersen and Hayley Cameron are currently attending the Evolution 2017 conference in Portland, Oregon.  This is a joint meeting of the American Naturalist Society, the Society for the Study of Evolution and the Society of Systematic Biologists with over 1,800 delegates expected.

PhD student Amanda Petterson will speak about how competition mediates selection on metabolic rates in the field. Metabolic rates reflect the ‘pace of life’ in every organism and provide a measure of an organism’s capacity for essential maintenance, growth and reproduction – all of which interact to affect fitness. Despite the importance of metabolic rate in shaping processes from the individual to community level, empirical studies have mainly been confined to the laboratory, with very few estimates of selection on metabolic rate under realistic field conditions. Amanda’s research combines laboratory measures of metabolic rate throughout development with field measures of fitness (reproductive output) across three levels of competition (intra-specific, inter-specific, and no competition) for a marine bryozoan. Amanda and supervisors Craig White and Dustin Marshall have found that the strength and direction of selection on metabolic rate depends on both the stage of development, and environment to which individuals are exposed.  Amanda will present data to demonstrate the complex nature of context-dependent selection that likely generated these patterns, and the potential evolutionary and ecological consequences of variation in metabolic rates.

Fellow PhD candidate Hayley Cameron will be presenting her latest research into the underlying causes of unequal maternal provisioning of offspring, which is often attributed to ‘bet hedging’. Hayley’s PhD project (supervised by Dustin Marshall and Keyne Monro) has found that broods that varied more in size had higher mean performance than less variable broods. Hayley will present the surprising results from this experiment along with the possibility that when siblings compete for the same resources, and offspring size affects access to these resources, the production of more variable broods can provide greater fitness returns given the same maternal investment; a process unanticipated by the current theory.

We wish Amanda and Hayley the best of luck with their presentations.