Bio- ja ympäristötieteiden laitos

Research in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Division


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  • Seasonal changes in predator community switch the direction of selection for prey defences. Aposematism has typically been considered a successful antipredatory strategy once established. The results from the large field experiment by professor Johanna Mappes’s team (Centre of Excellence in Biological Interactions Research) the demonstrates that naïve predators have to be educated every year anew (crypsis is favored over warning colors when fledglings are abundant) showing that the old evolutionary problem of apparent altruism of prey that educate naïve predators recurs in every generation. Poor survival of conspicuous prey in the presence of fledglings explains why less than 5% of Lepidopteran species exhibit conspicuous warning signals, as well as why aposematism occurs disproportionately often in seasons when educated individuals dominate the predator community. Nature Communications 5:5016.
  • Unmatedness Promotes the Evolution of Helping More in Diplodiploids than in Haplodiploids. A long-standing hypothesis suggests that haplodiploid sex-determination facilitates the evolution of altruistic helping and eusociality. Recent developments of this hypothesis suggest that mating failures, and their consequences to sex-ratios and inclusive fitness valuations of different classes of kin, may have promoted the evolution of altruistic helping in haplodiploids. However, Petri Rautiala and Mikael Puurtinen together with Heikki Helanterä from University of Helsinki (all members of Centre of Excellence in Biological Interactions Research) show that mating failures actually promote the evolution of altruism more in diplodiploid than in haplodiploid genetic systems. This work highlights the importance of considering the interactions between ecological and genetic factors in the evolution of helping and eusociality. The American Naturalist 184: 318-325.


  • Next generation legacy of symbiosis. A group by Dr. Sandra Varga, Dr. Rocio Vega Frutis and Dr. Minna-Maarit Kytöviita show the first evidence of transgenerational mycorrhiza-mediated maternal and paternal effects in a gynodioecious species Geranium sylvaticum.  Arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis affected plant fitness mainly through female functions with enduring effects on the next generation.The trangenerational effects were mainly on the quality of offspring, and these effects were fungal-species specific. New Phytologist 199: 812-821.
  • Challenges of ecological restoration: Lessons from forests in northern Europe. Ecological restoration is more and more commonly used to fight the global biodiversity loss. The questions of what biotopes, where and how to restore are in the center of massive international debate. In 2011, an international group of forest conservation specialists gathered in a meeting in Jyväskylä to discuss the lessons learned and the future challenges to overcome in boreal forest restoration. Now the results of this fruitful meeting have been published as a perspective in Biological Conservation. The group of 30 authors include representatives from ten European countries, nine of them from University of Jyväskylä. Biological Conservation 167: 248–256.
  • Adapted conservation measures are required to save the Iberian lynx in a changing climate. An international group led by Professor Miguel Araújo (University of Copehnagen, Denmark) modeled how the anticipated climate change will eventually lead to a rapid and dramatic decline of the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) and probably eradicate the species within 50 years given the present-day conservation efforts. However, when carefully planned reintroduction programme, account for the effects of climate change, prey abundance and habitat connectivity, this group suggests that we could avert extinction of the lynx this century. For the first time, this research group shows why considering prey availability, climate change and their interaction in models is important when designing policies to prevent future biodiversity loss. Nature Climate Change(2013) doi:10.1038/nclimate1954.


    • Prey community structure affects how predators select for Müllerian mimicry. How and in what conditions this striking similarity evolves has been mystery for decades. In a novel world experiment wild great tits (Parus major) foraged from either simple (few prey appearances) or complex (several prey appearances) artificial prey communities with specific model prey. Bird selected for accurate mimicry in simple communities since predators avoidance learning was slower in complex communities. Therefore in diverse environments, the limited diets of specialist predators could create ‘simple community pockets’ where accurate mimicry is selected for. Proceedings of Royal Society of London B 279:2099-2105.
    • Advantage of rare infanticide strategies in an invasion experiment of behavioural polymorphism: The novel invasion experiment confirms negative frequency-dependent selection in wild mammalian populations, where resource benefits allow an infanticidal strategy to invade a population of non-infanticidal individuals. Prof. Tapio Mappes and colleagues, on one hand, demonstrate potential benefits of infanticide, and on the other, they open a new perspective of correlative evolution of infanticide in females and males. Nature Communications 3: 611


    Research highlights before 2012


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