Elucidating spatial eco-evolutionary mechanisms through theory and experiments
While often viewed as static, species’ ranges are quite dynamic and can be influenced by a variety of ecological and evolutionary mechanisms. In recent decades, anthropogenic factors have dramatically exposed the dynamic nature of species’ ranges as invasive species have become more and more prevalent while other species have begun to shift their ranges in response to climate change. While originally viewed as purely ecological processes, recently researchers have begun to appreciate the importance of rapid evolutionary changes to the dynamics of spreading populations. Alternatively, many range limits remain remarkably stable through time, a phenomenon which has sparked a great deal of research positing both ecological and evolutionary mechanisms. However, rarely are these mechanisms considered jointly or directly tested experimentally. Our lab uses a combination of laboratory microcosms and theoretical models to explore the mechanistic interplay of ecological and evolutionary drivers of range dynamics and their consequences for population persistence in the face of increasing global change.