Studying rapid evolution in Berlin

This month, I took up a new postdoctoral position in Germany, as part of the Ecological Novelty group lead by Jonathan Jeschke at Freie Universität Berlin. I am thrilled to embark on a three-year project examining rapid evolution in novel ecosystems as part of the (much) larger Bridging in Biodiversity Science (BIBS) project. While I am still working on the particulars of the research project, the main idea will be to look for evidence of recent rapid evolution in plant and insect populations of urbanized and invaded areas of Berlin. Working with other teams from the BIBS project, I will examine the variation in phenotypic traits of native plants and herbivore insects along a gradient of urbanization. Using a reciprocal transplantation experiment, we aim to test for evidence of potential adaptation of populations exposed to urban abiotic conditions and novel biotic interactions. Understanding which plant and insect traits are under selection and whether an evolutionary response is occurring in these systems will give insight into future community dynamics and ecosystem services in a rapidly urbanizing world.

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