Dragonflies and damselflies as model organisms in ecology and evolution

Friday seminar by Erik Svensson



Evolutionary biology, and to a lesser extent ecology, is currently very focussed on a few traditional and well-known study systems that are tractable either in the field or in the laboratory, e. g. guppies, fruitflies, flycatchers and red deer to name some well-known cases. This is unfortunate, since a greater diversity of study organisms is important to the future of these two fields and to be able to adress and answer a broader set of interesting research questions. One interesting and relatively underutilized group of organisms that seems to be on the rise and is rapidly increasing in popularity among biologists are odonates (dragonflies and damselflies). This is reflected by a recently pubished research volume by Oxford University Press ("Dragonflies and damselflies as model Organisms in ecological and evolutionary research". Cordóba-Aguilar, A.,editor. 2008. OUP, Oxford).

In my talk, I will discuss the use and utility of dragonflies and damselflies as model organisms in ecological and evolutionary studies. I will illustrate my talk with some recent examples of odonate studies both from my own research laboratory as well as from other research groups. Odonates are particularly suitable in comparative population biology, natural and sexual selection in the wild, evolution of colour patterns, sexual selection and sexual conflict, polymorphism maintenance and in speciation processes and the causes of sexual isolation. In addition, odonates are also becoming popular in studies of phenology, range expansions and the links to climate change, as well as in contemporary conservation biology. Hopefully, my talk will stimulate further research interest in this fascinating group of insects in the future.

Erik Svensson
Professor (Animal Ecology), Department of Ecology, Lund University, Sweden

Published Feb. 3, 2012 1:26 PM - Last modified Feb. 3, 2012 1:26 PM