The interplay of plasticity and evolution in insect responses to variable, changing environments

Speaker: Lauren Buckley, Department of Biology, University of Washington
Abstact:  Organisms respond to climate change via tracking through space or time, phenotypic plasticity, or evolution. A key question is whether plasticity facilitates evolution by enabling persistence or hinders evolution by buffering selection. I will present a phenotype-based forecasting framework for montane butterflies, which finds that plasticity facilitates evolution by reducing fluctuations in selection, particularly in more seasonal environments. Repeating historic lab and field studies and examining museum specimens reveals both the viability of evolutionary responses and their constraints and lags. The research highlights the importance of considering interacting organismal responses to climate change. I will also introduce the TrEnCh project that aims to improve ecological forecasts by developing computational and visualization tools for Translating Environmental Change into organismal responses.