The introduction of non-native species poses a growing threat to global biodiversity. Native species can respond to environmental change at previously unimagined rates. It is critical that we incorporate evolutionary perspectives if we are to understand fundamental processes affecting community structure as well as assess the resilience of native populations to global change. Invasive fire ants and native lizards provide an excellent model for such research. Following fire ant invasion, the lizards develop novel defensive behavior that permits them to survive attack by these globally invasive ants. Ecological and evolutionary approaches will be employed in the field and laboratory to quantify the relative contributions of additive genetic variation and phenotypic plasticity to the development of this adaptive defensive behavior, and shed light on the role of evolutionary processes in the assembly and dynamics of natural communities.
This research investigates how native communities respond to rapid environmental change, and provides critical information on the long-term impact of fire ants, an invasive species of global concern. The study will provide training opportunities for graduate and minority undergraduate students, and will directly involve K-12 students from minority-serving institutions. The local community will be engaged through displays and presentations of the results of this research.
|Effective start/end date||4/1/10 → 9/30/13|
- National Science Foundation: $503,320.00