The evolution of defence systems: theory and experiment
The EvoDef project combines theory with experiment to understand the properties of organismal defence systems and how they evolve under different selective conditions.
Daphnia pulex, a small freshwater crustacean that can modify aspects of its morphology, behaviour, and life history strategy in response to chemical cues (kairomones) from predators. Foto: Øistein Holen
About the project
An organism may use many types of defences to protect itself against its natural enemies. The different defence traits are often best understood as parts of more complex defence systems. In the theoretical part of this project we will develop mathematical models of organismal defence for several empirical systems, including Daphnia. In the experimental part we will focus on defence traits in Daphnia and test predictions from theory. We will explore adaptive variation in the number of defence lines, multi-trait polymorphisms and plasticity, priming of defences, evolutionary shifts in the mode of phenotype determination (e.g. from plastic to constitutive defence), as well as how costs of production and maintenance of defence traits might constrain the ability to express other traits, leading to evolutionary compromises.
The project is financed by the Research Council of Norway.