Evolutionary proccesses in variable emvironments Dissertation Thesis

Author(s): Novak, Sebastian
Advisor(s): Barton, Nicholas H
Committee Chair(s): Hippenmeyer, Simon
Committee Member(s): Vuilleumier, Sèverine; Tkačik, Gašper
Title: Evolutionary proccesses in variable emvironments
Affiliation IST Austria
Abstract: Natural environments are never constant but subject to spatial and temporal change on all scales, increasingly so due to human activity. Hence, it is crucial to understand the impact of environmental variation on evolutionary processes. In this thesis, I present three topics that share the common theme of environmental variation, yet illustrate its effect from different perspectives. First, I show how a temporally fluctuating environment gives rise to second-order selection on a modifier for stress-induced mutagenesis. Without fluctuations, when populations are adapted to their environment, mutation rates are minimized. I argue that a stress-induced mutator mechanism may only be maintained if the population is repeatedly subjected to diverse environmental challenges, and I outline implications of the presented results to antibiotic treatment strategies. Second, I discuss my work on the evolution of dispersal. Besides reproducing known results about the effect of heterogeneous habitats on dispersal, it identifies spatial changes in dispersal type frequencies as a source for selection for increased propensities to disperse. This concept contains effects of relatedness that are known to promote dispersal, and I explain how it identifies other forces selecting for dispersal and puts them on a common scale. Third, I analyse genetic variances of phenotypic traits under multivariate stabilizing selection. For the case of constant environments, I generalize known formulae of equilibrium variances to multiple traits and discuss how the genetic variance of a focal trait is influenced by selection on background traits. I conclude by presenting ideas and preliminary work aiming at including environmental fluctuations in the form of moving trait optima into the model.
Publication Title: IST Dissertation
Degree Granting Institution: IST Austria  
Degree: PhD
Degree Date: 2016-07-01
Start Page: 1
Total Pages: 124
Open access: no