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).

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 organ­ized our first work­shop 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 organ­izes 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 took 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 cre­ated a basis for a net­work of young sci­ent­ists who are also inter­ested in par­ti­cip­at­ing in the 2nd meeting.

The second meet­ing will take place in the Cévennes, France, on August 26–30 (i.e. fol­low­ing the ESEB 2019 meet­ing in Turku). It will be atten­ded by most of the PhD stu­dents and early career research­ers who came to the first meet­ing in Lund, Sweden, and some new par­ti­cipants – thereby expand­ing the inter­na­tion­al net­work of col­lab­or­at­ors that star­ted form­ing with the first meet­ing. The second meet­ing will con­sist of: par­ti­cipant-lead lec­tures and dis­cus­sion on math­em­at­ic­al mod­els and mod­el­ing tools related to the top­ic of loc­al adapt­a­tion and sex dif­fer­ences; journ­al-club ses­sions based, in part, on the art­icles pub­lished after the first meet­ing; and open dis­cus­sion ses­sions and col­lab­or­at­ive research.

The third meet­ing (planned for 2022) 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.