Late Lunch Talk: A thoroughgoing tour into ecology and evolution: from plant ecology to invertebrate genomics by José Cerca de Oliveira
Late Lunch Talk by José Cerca de Oliveira from the Natural History Museum of Oslo
A thoroughgoing tour into ecology and evolution: from plant ecology (pollinator preference in a hybrid zone) to invertebrate genomics (the meiofauna paradox and cryptic species)
In this brief presentation I will present what I have done so far in my (short) career.
1) Pollinator preferences in a generalist plant hybrid zone (MSc Thesis):
An exceptional model for understanding the selective mechanism underlying the great diversity of floral traits is provided by the floral polymorphism within the sunflower family (Asteraceae). Rayed capitula usually attract a larger number of pollinators, guaranteeing higher outcrossing rates while, on the other hand, rayless plants avoid costs of producing and maintaining rays and potentially reallocate resources. We explored the effect of ray presence/absence on pollinator preferences, fruit production and plant fitness in a natural hybrid zone where the rayed species Anacyclus clavatusand the rayless species Anacyclus valentinus co-occur and hybridize. We found that despite rayed plants received significantly more visits from pollinators and produced significantly more fruits (per inflorescence), no significant differences in plant fitness were found. We also found that rayed and rayless plants were differently affected by the neighbours’ floral phenotype (rayed plants benefited from having rayed neighbours whereas rayless plants competed when having neighbouring plants).
2) On the origins of cryptic species: Insights from the Stygocapitella subterraneaspecies complex (PhD thesis)
Stygocapitella subterranea, Knöllner 1934 (Parergodrilidae, Annelida) is a cryptic species complex of interstitial annelids. Despite the lack of dispersal stages, previous works found three morphologically identical genetic clades occurring at European and both Northern American coastlines. This species complex will be established as a model system to address topics related to the origin, dispersal, distribution and morphological stasis of interstitial species. As a first part of my PhD thesis, recent advances regarding supposedly cosmopolitan distributions and dispersal potential of interstitial species will be summarized. In my second project, I will investigate the phylogeography of S. subterranea in the Nortern Hemisphere as to assess the number of cryptic entities in the complex, the degree of morphological similarity among these and understand its dispersal potential at intercontinental scales. This project will also provide the foundation for my third project where I will address the dispersal potential at regional and local scales along the Northern and Western European coastlines, using population-genomic data. Finally a reference genome shall be assembled. This genome will also provide valuable insights into the genome evolution of annelids in general as well as the assumed progenic origin of these interstitial species.