My research is motivated by the spectacular organismal diversity across the tree of life and aims at understanding how phenotypic variation emerges and how it is maintained in spatially or temporally variable environments. I am using a variety of study systems spanning different levels of ecological organization (populations / communities / ecosystems) to investigate interactions within species, between species, and environmental effects as drivers of phenotypic diversification.
Specifically, I am interested in how evolutionary trajectories are affected by the interplay of natural selection and phenotypic plasticity - especially during juvenile development and by selection for combinations of traits. Understanding the role of developmental plasticity and complex selection patterns on correlated characters is key to understanding the formation and maintenance of phenotypic variation in a broader evolutionary context.
My overarching research goal is to trace causality behind phenotypic variation within a phenomics framework using high resolution data.
I address my research questions using both outdoor and laboratory experiments, but I also use existing datasets to study the factors that shape phenotypic evolution. To collect high dimensional phenotypic data in high throughtput I use automated image analysis: computer vision is a versatile and efficient method for phenomics, allowing us to overcome manual image processing as a longstanding analytical bottleneck in ecology and evolution.
Phenomics of sexual conflict in damselflies
The common bluetail damselfly (Ischnura elegans) exhibits unusuably stable female-limited colour polymorphisms. I am investigating signals of correlational selection on colouration and morphology in response to balancing selection and environmental conditions within and across different Swedish populations.
Trophic diversification of Lake Victoria Cichlids
It took less than 15000 years for several hundred species of haplochromine cichlid species to evolve from a common ancestor within Lake Victoria. I am using computer vision to construct a classifier to map fossil teeth onto teeth from contemporary trophic guilds to investigate the speed and order of their emergence.
Isopod pigmentation: developmental plasticity and selection
Divergent selection and adaptive phenotypic plasticity can jointly influence phenotypic differentiation within and among populations. In a series of in- and outdoor experiments I explored how selection and diet-driven developmental plasticity affect pigmentation phenotypes in the freshwater isopod Asellus aquaticus.
Determinants of temporal variability in aquatic ecosystem
Submerged macrophytes are important foundation species that can influence the structure and functioning of aquatic ecosystems over time and govern the response to perturbation. In a series of large scale outdoor experiments we quantified ecosystem effects of macrophytes using cutting-edge high frequency measurement technology.