Can endosymbionts alter climate change resilience in insects?

Heritable endosymbionts – microscopic bacteria living exclusively within host cells – are widespread in insects. A handful of studies indicate that endosymbionts may influence the thermal tolerance of their host, yet whether they alter the upper thermal limits and climate change risk of insects is unknown.

This project aims to establish whether endosymbionts alter climate change vulnerability and investigate the potential for endosymbionts to be used as a tool to modify climate change resilience in insects. 

*I am currently looking for graduate students to work on this project. Please contact me if you are interested.

Is adaptation to climate change really constrained in niche specialists?

Accurately predicting the vulnerability of species to climate change is of paramount importance for managing biodiversity for conservation, agricultural and human health-related purposes. Mounting evidence indicates that adaptive responses to climate change may be highly constrained, particularly in the biodiverse tropics. However this is based on studies that do not reflect projected climate change. 

The aim of this project is to determine the extent to which evolutionary change and plasticity will contribute to species responses to climate change using experimental conditions of direct relevance to nature.

Frayed at the edges? Integrating evolutionary genetics into the study of species distributional limits

Despite the pervasiveness of the world’s biodiversity, no single species has a truly global distribution. In fact most species have very restricted distributions. What limits species from expanding beyond their current geographic range?

This projects aims to explore the evolutionary genetics of species borders and develop evolutionary models of species responses to climate change.

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