Group description/Main objectives
Experimental evolution is evolutionary biology in its most empirical sense, as it involves the study of real time changes in populations, instead of inferring evolutionary processes from comparisons between contemporaneous populations. It is thus a powerful tool to establish a direct causal link between evolutionary processes and adaptation patterns. Its explanatory power relies upon (1) characterization of the initial state of populations, (2) knowledge of the evolutionary forces driving different sets of populations (3), ability to follow the dynamics of a process, and the temporal microevolutionary changes of patterns, instead of measuring its end-product only, and (4) capacity to test predictions as a function of specific evolutionary hypotheses. This group performs experimental evolution with the two classical model systems of this research area, namely bacteria and Drosophila, and in another emerging model, herbivorous spider mites. Our research covers several aspects of Evolutionary Biology, but we give particular emphasis to (a) evolution in response to environmental changes (including laboratory evolution), (b) evolution of social behaviour and other behavioural patterns and (c)evolution of species interactions. Our experiments are grounded uponpredictions generated by theoretical models, developed by others or by ourselves.
Head of group (2013): Francisco Dionísio