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Eco-evolutionary dynamics: theory and experiments

Confirmed keynote speakers for this session:

Elaine Crooks (University of Swansea, UK): "Invasion speeds in a competition-diffusion model with mutation".

We consider a reaction-diffusion system modelling the growth, dispersal and mutation of two phenotypes. This model was proposed in by Elliott and Cornell (2012), who presented evidence that for a class of dispersal and growth coefficients and a small mutation rate, the two phenotypes spread into the unstable extinction state at a single speed that is faster than either phenotype would spread in the absence of mutation. After first showing that, under reasonable conditions on the mutation and competition parameters, the spreading speed of the two phenotypes is indeed determined by the linearisation about the extinction state, we prove that the spreading speed is a non-increasing function of the mutation rate (implying that greater mixing between phenotypes leads to slower propagation), determine the ratio at which the phenotypes occur in the leading edge in the limit of vanishing mutation, and discuss the effect of trade-offs between dispersal and growth on the spreading speed of the phenotypes. This talk is based on joint work with Luca Börger and Aled Morris (Swansea).

Christopher Clements (University of Bristol, UK): "Predicting the future of biological systems".

Predicting the future states of biological systems is critical if we are to efficiently and effectively preserve biodiversity in the face of ongoing environmental change. However, doing so is challenging, as ecological systems are inherently high dimensional, non-linear, and stochastic, and the data available to make such predictions are often spatially and temporally data limited. These challenges mean that process-to-pattern methods, such as mechanistic models, are often impossible to parameterise for populations or species of conservation interest. Alternatively, the collapse of a population may be inferred from signals detected in available data, a so-called pattern-to-process approach. Recent work has shown that shifts in the distribution of fitness related phenotypic traits such as body size may be particularly useful signals of the collapse of populations, as they indicate the loss of resilience in the system and loss of structure in a population. I will discuss recent research in this area, and the potential for such trait-based approaches to help inform conservation decision making.