EvoSize: Size-dependent anthropogenic perturbations - from genes to ecosystems and back

About the project

Adaptive evolution is driven by both selective forces and trait genetic architectures (evolvability), which deflect the movements of the phenotype on the adaptive landscape. Additionally, selection itself may alter trait evolvability and simultaneously reshape the natural selection that acts back on phenotypes through so-called eco-evolutionary feedback loops.

We argue that integrating this whole suite of gene-to-ecosystem processes into a coherent framework would foster significant progress in biology. However, to date, this framework remains largely theoretical.

EvoSize will provide an experimental framework to explore eco-evolutionary feedback loops in the context of the anthropogenic size truncation that results from harvesting, habitat fragmentation or climate warming. We will impose bidirectional size-selection on medaka (Oryzias latipes) populations in the laboratory, thus rapidly generating high growth and low growth lines. In the selected medaka lines, we will measure phenotypic (life history, behaviour) and gene-expression response to selection, and estimate the effects of selection on trait evolvability.

In parallel, we will measure the cascading effects of medaka body-size evolution into pond food webs, and examine how these cascading effects alter the natural selective forces that act back on medaka phenotypes.

To our knowledge, this will be the first project to fully investigate an eco-evolutionary feedback loop from genes to ecosystem and back. Because body size is so important in ecological processes, results from EvoSize will have a wide scope.

Fundamentally, EvoSize will bring a significant breakthrough in our understanding of howevolutionary and ecological dynamics interact. From an applied perspective, EvoSize will provide the necessary knowledge to improve the resilience of human-perturbed ecosystems, and help modellers understand better how anthropogenic impacts (over-fishing) effect natural fish populations.


EvoSize aims to comprehensively investigate how anthropogenic size truncation in populations affects ecosystem function and resilience, considering the whole cascade of biological processes from genes to food web and back.

Specifically, EvoSize will:
-Generate large and small morph lines in a vertebrate model species (medaka) using artificial selection to study the interplay of rapid evolution and ecological dynamics
-Elucidate how anthropogenic size selection changes phenotypes and the underlying molecular architectures that support trait evolvability
-Quantify the cascading effects of phenotypic and molecular evolution on food-webs, and how consequent natural selection may act back on phenotypes in an eco-evolutionary loop
-Assess if and how emergent eco-evolutionary feedback loops support ecosystem stability, or instead favour regime shifts and irreversible changes
-Foster progress toward a new biological synthesis integrating the suite of processes from genes to ecosystems and back


This Project is funded by the Research Council of Norway (RCN) FRIMEDBIO

RCN Project Number: 251307 (Project data bank at RCN)

UiO Project Number: 190714


01.06.2016 - 31.05.2020


  • Alix Bouffet-Halle; Jacques Mériguet; David Carmignac; Simon Agostini; Alexis Millot; Samuel Perret; Eric Motard; Beatriz Decenciere & Eric Edeline (2021). Density‐dependent natural selection mediates harvest‐induced trait changes. Ecology Letters.  ISSN 1461-023X.  s 1- 10
  • Charlotte Evangelista; Beatriz Diaz Pauli; Leif Asbjørn Vøllestad & Eric Edeline (2020). Stoichiometric consequences of size-selective mortality: An experimental test using the Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes). Science of the Total Environment.  ISSN 0048-9697.  724, s 1- 8
  • Beatriz Diaz Pauli; Eric Edeline & Charlotte Evangelista (2020). Ecosystem consequences of multi-trait response to environmental changes in Japanese medaka, Oryzias latipes. Conservation Physiology.  ISSN 2051-1434.  8, s 1- 13
  • Charlotte Evangelista; Leif Asbjørn Vøllestad; Beatriz Diaz Pauli & Eric Edeline (2020). Density-dependent consequences of size-selective induced life-history changes to population fitness in medaka (Oryzias latipes). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.  ISSN 0706-652X.  77, s 1741- 1748
  • Eric Edeline & Nicolas Loeuille (2020). Size-dependent eco-evolutionary feedbacks in fisheries. BioRxiv.  ISSN 0362-4331.  s 1- 36
  • Clémentine Renneville; Alexis Millot; Simon Agostini; David Carmignac; Gersende Marie Aimee Maugars; Sylvie Dufour; Arnaud Le Rouzic & Eric Edeline (2020). Unidirectional response to bidirectional selection on body size. I. Phenotypic, life‐history, and endocrine responses. Ecology and Evolution.  ISSN 2045-7758.  10, s 10571- 10592
  • Arnaud Le Rouzic; Clémentine Renneville; Alexis Millot; Simon Agostini; David Carmignac & Eric Edeline (2020). Unidirectional response to bidirectional selection on body size. II. Quantitative genetics. Ecology and Evolution.  ISSN 2045-7758.  10, s 11453- 11466

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Published Feb. 5, 2021 1:16 PM - Last modified Feb. 10, 2021 10:54 AM