I am currently posted at the Hufbauer lab in Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO. Our lab focuses on applied evolutionary ecology (http://www.hufbauerlab.org) and my projects have focused on biological invasions and the evolutionary ecology of an invasive species.
PhD in Ecology
For my PhD I will return to my island of Guam and try to disentangle the food-web connections and understand how organisms have shifted due to the invasion of the brown tree snake. More info coming soon!
MS Ecology Thesis Abstract***This work is currently in preperation for publication.***
"The roles of phenotypic plasticity and adaptation in morphology and performance of an invasive species in a novel habitat."
Authors: Marcel-Kate Jardeleza, Jonathan Koch, Ian Pearse, Cameron Ghalambor and Ruth Hufbauer
Background/Question/Methods: Invasive species spread and thrive across widely variable habitats. Their success in novel environments may be influenced by phenotypic plasticity, which occurs when a genotype can produce multiple phenotypes in response to different environments, or local adaptation, the production of traits that are advantageous under the local environmental conditions regardless of their effects in other habitats. Drosophilla suzukii is an outstanding example of an invasive species that has established across many diverse environments and exhibits an elevational cline in wing size. In this study, we evaluated the degree to which plasticity and genetic differentiation determine differences in wing sizes, and whether plasticity appears to be adaptive or not. We conducted a reciprocal temperature experiment to understand the mechanisms driving the cline.
Results/Conclusions: In this study, we found that temperature had a strong effect on development time and cooler temperatures took longer to emerge compared to warmer temperatures. The reciprocal temperature experiment further revealed strong phenotypic plasticity. When flies from high and low elevation were reared at a cool temperature comparable to that found at high elevation, they produced larger wings. When reared at a warm temperature comparable to that found at low elevation, they produced smaller wings, which is the same pattern of variation observed in field populations. Additionally, we found significant differences in the number of flies that emerged from the two experimental temperatures. Flies from low and high elevation sites produced similar numbers of offspring at the cool temperature, while high elevation flies produced significantly more offspring at the warm temperature compared to the low elevation flies, despite that temperature being their home temperature. This study revealed strong plasticity in wing size, but no indication of local adaptation. If the wing phenotypes observed in high and low elevation populations in the field represent fit phenotypes, then this plasticity is adaptive. The flies may be exhibiting an “all-purpose genotype” where a fit phenotype is produced across the environmental conditions and there is no selection for adaptation to occur. As evidence continues to mount in support of the highly plastic responses of D. suzukii to temperature, particularly with respect to wing size, and the possible adaptiveness of this response, future studies need to make the direct connection between wing plasticity and adaptation. Hawaiian populations of D. suzukii exhibit substantial phenotypic variation in wing size, development time, and offspring production with some genetic component to that plasticity.
Koch, J.B., Dupuis, J.R., Jardeleza, M.K., Ouedraogo, N., Geib, S.M., Follett, P.A. and Price, D.K., 2020. Population genomic and phenotype diversity of invasive Drosophila suzukii in Hawai ‘i. Biological Invasions, pp.1-18.