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FRIMEDBIO-Fri prosj.st. med.,helse,biol

Social dynamics and eco-evolutionary feedbacks in wild populations

Alternativ tittel: Sosial dynamikk og øko-evolusjonære tilbakemeldinger i ville populasjoner

Tildelt: kr 8,0 mill.

Å unngå befolkningskollaps på grunn av klimaendringer er en av de største utfordringene for vår generasjon. For effektivt å kunne bruke de begrensede ressursene som er tildelt bevaringsarbeid, må vi forstå egenskapene til organismer som påvirker deres sårbarhet for endringer i miljøet. En av de mest definerende egenskapene til organismer er deres sosiale dynamikk. Å forstå rollen til sosial atferd (aggresjon kontra samarbeid) og sosial struktur (familiegrupper kontra ensomme livsstiler) for økologi og evolusjon av arter er derfor av avgjørende betydning for vårt bevaringsarbeid. I dette prosjektet vil vi kombinere teoretiske analyser med et detaljert atferdsstudie av en svært sosial fugleart for å forstå rollen til sosial atferd i utryddelsesrisiko og evnen til å takle miljøendringer.

The recent realization that rapid evolution may allow populations to cope with the current pace of environmental change has led to an increasing number of studies focusing on eco-evolutionary dynamics. However, the role of social interactions in the evolutionary process (i.e. social evolution) has largely been ignored in this context. This represents a gap in our understanding of eco-evolutionary dynamics, because competition, cooperation and sexual reproduction are key drivers of the direction and pace of evolution. In this project, I will use social evolution theory to study eco-evolutionary dynamics in wild populations. I will achieve this by combining cutting- edge genomic techniques and automated behavioral measuring tools with a unified framework based on behavioral ecology theory of social traits, quantitative genetics models predicting responses to selection, and projection models from stochastic population dynamics. This project has an empirical component that focuses on a house sparrow meta-population consisting of 11 islands monitored since 1993. The project will also have a theoretical component where we will use data simulations to explore the role of social interactions in phenotypic evolution and population growth. In work package 1 we will analyse already collected data from a house sparrow metapopulation to quantify how body mass affects an individual’s fitness, the fitness of interacting partners, and the mean fitness of local populations, to then explore how social selection and genetic relatedness affect short-term evolutionary changes in body mass and population size. In work package 2 we will use theoretical modelling to study the consequences of social interactions on the long-term viability of populations and in work package 3 we will use high-throughput behavioural data collection, to study how relatedness, the frequency of phenotypes and spatio-temporal variation in population size affects agonistic versus associative interactions.

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FRIMEDBIO-Fri prosj.st. med.,helse,biol