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We strive to understand the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms that generate and maintain biological diversity using population genomics, experimental manipulations, and field studies. Our goal is to not only test basic ecological and evolutionary theory, but also directly inform policy and management decisions that will ultimately determine the fate of biodiversity.

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Historic guppy transplant experiments in Trinidad provide a replicated test of the balance between selection and gene flow in nature, revealing that adaptive traits are maintained in the face of high gene flow

IMG_1213 Sarah Fitzpatrick (PhD candidate), Lisa Angeloni (Associate Professor), Jill Gerberich (REU student), John Kronenberger (PhD student), and Chris Funk (Associate Professor) set out to the streams of Trinidad to investigate the impacts of previous transplant experiments where Trinidadian guppies were moved from stream localities with many predators into upstream tributaries with few predators. Guppies from these introduced populations have provided one of the best examples of rapid adaptation in the wild. But until now, the impact of the non-native guppies, as they get washed downstream and interact with native populations, was unknown.

Using genetic markers, our team found that the genetic signature of introduced guppies swept to long downstream distances, indicating high levels of gene flow downstream from all introduction sites on a rapid timescale. However, despite genetic uniformity caused by introductions, guppies maintained phenotypic traits that best allowed them to survive and reproduce, given their local predator community. In other words, genetic homogenization did not cause the loss of locally adapted phenotypes.

Citation: Fitzpatrick SW, Gerberich JC, Kronenberger J, Angeloni LM, Funk WC (In Press) Locally adapted traits maintained in the face of high gene flow. Ecology Letters.

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