What are the genetic and genomic changes that underlie adaptation to divergent environments? How do these changes lead to the formation of new species? These two questions have driven my research for the past 15 years - and it’s been an exciting time to be asking them! The field of evolutionary genetics has begun to make great progress in identifying specific genetic changes that underlie phenotypes thought to be important for adaptation to particular environments. Yet there usually isn’t just one "magic" phenotype important for adaptation to a complex environment, and many different phenotypes need to work together for an organism to be successful in a new environment. Importantly, we still don’t have a clear idea of how the genetic changes that underlie specific phenotypes contribute to whole-organism performance or fitness in a particular environment. Also, we know very little about how these genetic changes lead to the evolution of reproductive isolation between species that have adapted to divergent environments.
|Dolph Schluter explaining his quest to understand the origin of species using the benthic-limnetic species pairs at the Texada Island Stickleback meeting in 2010.
|Matt Arnegard and Katie Peichel looking for the Paxton benthic-limnetic F1 hybrids in spring 2008, just after 40 F1s were released into pond 4. These F1s mated freely to create the large F2 population used for genetic mapping in our study.