Evolutionary ecology is a course that is offering new knowledge on evolutionary aspects of population ecology. Course aim is to enable students to acquire insights into theoretical framework and terminology of evolutionary ecology, as well as conceptual basic understanding of the main interaction among environment genotype and phenotype, which are underlying all evolutionary and ecological processes. This course thus contributes to the knowledge on the interaction between ecological and evolutionary processes, with the primary focus on ecological causes of evolution and evolutionary aspects of populations and communities dynamics. Within this course students will get insights into modern approaches and methods used to address evolutionary and ecological questions. The course also builds students capacities to understand, design and plan evolutionary and ecological research. All lectures, practicals and seminars are quite interactive. Most of the lectures are based upon intriguing biological examples.
1.-2. Historical overview of evolutionary ecology. Scientific principles and methods in evolutionary ecology.
3.-4. Ecological factors and evolutionary forces underlying microevolutionary processes in natural and experimental populations. Evolutionary aspects of population dynamics.
5.-6. Experimental and research approaches in evolutionary ecology. Transplantation experiments.
7.-8. Natural variation and its evolutionary significance. Patterns of genetic diversity, differentiation and population structure in microevolutionary processes.
9.-10. Defining genetic variability in evolutionary ecology research.
11. -12. Adaptive and maladaptive responses to ecological processes. Ecological consequences of microevolutionary processes. Different kinds of environmental selection in natural populations.
13.-14. Genotype environment interactions. Fitness landscape and adaptive walks.
15.-16. Acclimatization and phenotypic plasticity. Phenotype- environment interactions. Maternal and paternal effects.
17. Environment-epigenetic interactions. Epigenetic factors underlying adaptation and acclimatization.
18. Basic principles of landscape and seascape genetics.
19.-20. Evolutionary aspects of reproductive strategies and reproductive isolation.
21. Evolutionary aspects of dispersal strategies and bioinvasions.
22. -24. Ecological speciation. Adaptive radiations.
25. -26. Eco-evo interactions. Evolutionary processes on the levels of biocenosis. Coevolution prey-predator, host-parasite, plant host -insects.
27.-28. Anthropologically induced microevolution- global change I: ecosystem fragmentation, climate change.
29. -30. Anthropologically induced microevolution - global change II: evolutionary toxicology.
Seminar topics are following the lectures, and team work and discussions are strongly encouraged.
Practical work will include research examples on the course topics, with emphasis given on defining research hypotheses, approaches, experimental design, methods to gather process and visualise the data and interpretation of results. Practical work will aim to develop strong team cooperation skills.