Saturday, October 07, 2006
Research could provide insight into how environmental changes cause organisms to evolve and how evolving organisms change the ecosystem:
Riverside, California - An interdisciplinary team of researchers led by David Reznick (homepage), an evolutionary biologist at University of California, Riverside, has been awarded $5 million over five years by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct an experimental study on how ecology - a branch of science concerned with the interrelationship of an organism and its environment - and evolution interact. The findings of the study are expected to help explain how environmental changes influence an organism's evolution as well as how the evolving organism, in turn, changes the ecosystem in which it is embedded.
Reznick, a professor of biology and the principal investigator of the grant from NSF's Frontiers in Integrative Biological Research (FIBR) program, in collaboration with colleagues specializing in molecular biology, population ecology, ecosystems science, biogeochemistry and applied mathematics, will perform the study of evolution/ecology interactions in natural stream communities on the island of Trinidad.
Specifically, the team will focus on guppies - small fresh-water fish biologists have studied for long - that coexist in the stream with Hart's killifish, a predator. The team will examine not only what causes the guppies to evolve as they might but also the co-evolution of the killifish.
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