Plant adaptation and genetic connectivity in the face of climate change
Plant Population Biology
Plants are expected to react to climate change with adaptation, phenotypic plasticity, migration or extinction. Given the rate of current environmental change, the potential for adaptation through accumulation of novel mutations is limited. Instead, rapid evolutionary change based on standing genetic diversity is likely to be more important. This evolutionary potential is assumed to positively correlate with breadth of genetic diversity. Plants occurring over large environmental gradients might be adapted to local conditions. Gene flow among populations of contrasting habitats might thereby mitigate climate change effects by providing increased genetic raw material on which natural selection might work.
Our research focuses on niche differentiation, reaction potential and gene dispersal within landscapes to estimate plant persistence in a changing environment. We thereby combine quantitative genetic and pollination experiments with neutral genetic diversity measures. Most of our research takes place in alpine habitats, where altitudinal gradients serve as a surrogate for changing climate with an increase in temperature and season length from the top to the bottom of the mountain.
Adaptive evolution in plants
Ecological and genetic responses to climate change
Contemporary pollen flow along altitudinal gradients: Outbreeding depression or vigor?
Temporal-spatial genetic patterns in expanding populations
Plant pollinator interactions
Linking dendroecology with genetic diversity in trees at mesic and dry sites
Neutral vs. adaptive molecular variation