Fishes are the most diverse group of vertebrates, are key players in aquatic ecosystems, provide a diverse set of ecosystem services, and are sensitive to environmental change. We study their ecology, evolution and conservation. We work with fish diversity from traits and genes in populations to the diversity of species assemblages, their change through time and the ecosystem consequences. We are particularly interested in understanding the evolution of endemic diversity within individual ecosystems, such as the radiations of cichlid fish in African lakes and the radiation of whitefish in the lakes around the European Alps. We are a single research group led by Ole Seehausen at the University of Bern but Ole also leads the Department Fish Ecology and Evolution at the Eawag Center for Ecology, Evolution and Biogeochemistry, Kastanienbaum, where we currently host three other research groups that are all associated with the IEE too. The work of the Eawag department is motivated by the aim to contribute to the emerging synthesis between evolutionary biology and ecosystems ecology. There we also host the Swiss Fisheries Advisory Service.
PNAS - Experimental evidence that parasites drive eco-evolutionary feedbacks
Jaime, as part of his PhD, and colleagues conducted a huge and complicated mesocosm experiment which was recently published in PNAS. They studied the effects of recent evolution on an ecosystem in a fish-parasite community using both ecological measurements as well as gene expression profiles of two generations of fish. Their results show that the presence of parasites and the evolution of differential parasite resistance can influence host performance, and these parasite-induced performance differences can have cascading effects on community structure and ecosystem function.