Linking local adaptation with the evolution of sex differences

Organizers: Hanna Kokko (University of Zurich, Switzerland), Erik Svensson (University of Lund, Sweden), Florence Débarre (Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology, Paris, France), and Tim Connallon (Monash University, Melbourne, Australia)

Call for applications for the first workshop – Deadline 31 March 2017

Our Special Topics Network focuses on linking the study of local adaptation with the study of sex differences. While the theory of local adaptation is well established, it is also surprisingly incomplete: this theory often ignores a fundamental feature of biology — sex and the consequent potential for sexual dimorphism. On the other hand, sex differences in selection and sex-biased demographic parameters are known to play important roles in population dynamics and the evolution of sexual dimorphism and sex-specific adaptation, but the study of sex differences is typically not conducted with spatially varying environments in mind. We are a group of integrative enthusiasts who would like students to think about both topics – therefore we are glad to get the funding and are now organizing our first workshop, to take place in Lund on August 14-17th 2017, i.e. just before the Groningen ESEB meeting.

As part of the ESEB Special Topic Network program, our team will organize three workshops over six years. We aim to make each of the workshops attractive and interesting to both empirical and theoretical researchers in the field. Of course, participation in one of the workshops does not entail attending them all.

The first one will take place in Lund, Sweden, on August 14th-17th 2017 (i.e. before the ESEB meeting in Groningen), with an emphasis on teaching the tools of the trade to PhD students and early career researchers interested in this topic. It will hopefully form a basis for a network of young scientists who might also be interested in participating in the 2nd meeting.

The aim of the second meeting (planned for 2019) is more research oriented, where individual researchers might already report on projects initiated in 2017. Part of this workshop’s goal is also to work on a large-scale meta-analysis of geographic variation in sexual selection, sexual dimorphism, and sex-by-environment interactions for selection and/or the expression of quantitative genetic variation. It will help assess where we are in terms of the existing data, and identify a tractable empirical agenda for the next several years.

The third meeting (planned for 2021) will wrap up what the projects so far have found, and also form an update on the theoretical state of the art of the field by then. Although the exact career stage of the participants remains to be determined, it might be possible to include the newest generation of students again by providing some of the material in a teaching-oriented manner again, with a focus on theoretical methods that are by then used in mathematical and simulation models in spatial evolutionary ecology. We will seek to break down the common communication barriers between theoreticians and empiricists.

Lund, Sweden, on August 14th-17th 2017 (just in time to travel to the ESEB meeting in Groningen)

Our first workshop is intended for early career researchers (PhD students having priority; if space permits we might include postdocs and/or students working on their MSc). We will provide teaching in the areas of spatial evolutionary ecology, local adaptation and sexual dimorphism (including sexually dimorphic plasticity), and will provide opportunity to meet and interact productively with researchers from different horizons within the field. We will together seek to identify theoretical gaps at the interface between subfields, and develop new predictions and seek suitable systems for testing them. We hope that the meeting could spur research collaborations between individuals that could then, in 2 years’ time, be reported back at the next meeting; however, such projects should form organically rather than be enforced.

How to apply: Send an email to anais.tilquin@ieu.uzh.ch by March 31st explaining your research background and why you believe you would benefit from this workshop. We can accommodate 13 students and/or early career researchers, and can provide additional support on request for travelling.