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Phenotypic variability in life-history traits: is intra population variability important for zooplankton dynamics

Tildelt: kr 2,6 mill.

State-of-the-art studies in theoretical disciplines predict that populations will evolve as environments change. There is hardly any empirical information that can shed light on the importance of this process for natural marine zooplankton. This is most u nfortunate, as many of the changes predicted to occur from current environmental instabilities in the ocean (e.g climate change and anthropogenic disturbances) can hardly be understood without this kind of knowledge. We apply for funding of a postdoc posi tion to form a research group together with Ketil Eiane (UNIS) and Thomas Kiørboe (DFU) that will focus on such studies of microevolution in zooplankton. We aim to measure the level of within-population-variability for a series of life-history traits in different species of marine copepods, both in natural populations and under constant conditions in the lab. Also we will compare the difference in life-history traits (and variability) between populations of the same species living in contrasting environm ents (boreal and arctic populations of common copepod species). Finally we will use the information obtained to study what effects individual variability in studied life-history traits has on population dynamics of copepods by applying sensitivity analysi s to model simulations. This will provide much needed information on differences in selective pressure between systems. The heritability of important life-history traits such as size, fecundity and developmental rate will be measured under laboratory cond itions to provide information on the potential speed of microevolution in natural populations. We believe the proposed project will contribute to marine ecology by providing new information that hardly exists ant that will be the basis for future studies that integrates population genetics and population dynamics.

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HAVKYST-Havet og kysten