Frederik Mortier

Drs. Frederik Mortier
Terrestrial Ecology Unit
Department of Biology
Ghent University
K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35
9000 Gent Belgium

Phone: +32 (0)9 264 52 58

The spatial and community context of the evolution of ecological specialization

Dispersal is an important piece of the eco-evolutionary puzzle. It counteracts ecological specialization in a heterogeneous landscape by redistributing locally adapted alleles. How both traits evolve and interact with each other, as well as the resulting population dynamics, depend on the spatial grain and the level of habitat choice. Matching habitat choice, where individuals disperse in an informed way toward the most suitable patch, is a likely phenomenon that decreases the cost of maladaptation in dispersing individuals. The community context additionally alters adaptive processes through direct and indirect interactions.

By combining experimental evolution and modelling, we aim to demonstrate the dynamic interplay between changes in metapopulation structure, demography, competition and the evolution of ecological specialization and dispersal. With the development of an individual-based model, we study how the simulated mechanisms drive adaptive dynamics and affect the resulting feedback with ecological dynamics. In parallel, we set up experiments where we introduce the spider mite Tetranychus urticae in mesocosms. We similarly study the ensuing eco-evo dynamics in relation to aspects of the landscape, environment and the individuals. Early on in my project, we will focus mainly on how habitat choice affects these eco-evolutionary interactions.

Publication list (UGent affiliations only)