Hybridization’s Role in Evolution

Related publications: Homoploid hybrid speciation: Comeault & Matute 2018, Comeault 2018; Hybridization and reproductive isolation: Cooper et al. 2018, Turissini et al. 2017.

Hybridization has a long history of study in evolutionary biology, and it can have a wide range of consequences on evolution. For example, hybridization can result in the production of maladapted hybrid offspring, thereby revealing mechanisms of reproductive isolation. Alternatively, hybridization between species can sometimes generate novel diversity though hybrid speciation. We study hybridization’s role in evolution using experiments in nature, experimental evolution in the lab, and in silico simulations. [Collaborators: Daniel Matute]

Invasion Genomics and Adaptation

Relevant publications: Genetic diversity & thermal performance: Comeault et al. 2020

Invasive species are useful ‘natural experiments’ that can be used to test questions such as: How do populations adapt to novel climates? What is the genetic basis of adaptation? and How does selection and demography interact during the colonization of novel environments to shape patterns of genetic variation within and among populations?

We have collected genomic data from the invasive fruit fly Zaprionus indianus from across their native range in Africa and at locations in Columbia, Hawaii, and the eastern United States where they are invasive. We are using these data to better understand how demography and selection shape evolution in invasive species.

We are also utilizing comparisons between invasive species and their non-invasive sister species to test whether invasive species are unique in their ability to adapt to novel environments. [Collaborators: Daniel Matute].

Thermal niche conservatism and evolution

Understanding how species are able (or unable) to adapt to novel and changing environments is central to being able to predict effects of climate change on biodiversity. We are using phylogenetic, thermal niche measurements, experimental evolution, and genetic approaches to understand how the thermal niche of ecologically diverse Drosophilid fruit flies evolve. [Collaborators: Daniel Matute and Allen Hurlbert]