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 four 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. Researchers in the department of vertebrates at the Natural History Museum Bern, NMBE, are also affiliated with our University division.
ProcRSocB - The propagation of admixture-derived adaptive radiation potential
Kotaro and Ole published a theory paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society on how genetic variation generated through hybridization between distantly related lineages can promote adaptive radiations. They were particularly interested in the problem as to how such genetic variation can persist in space and time. Their computer simulations demonstrate that admixture variation can geographically spread and persist for long periods if the hybrid population becomes separated into isolated sub-lineages. Their simulations further revealed conditions where exceptional genetic variation, once generated through a rare hybridization event, can facilitate multiple adaptive radiations exploiting ecological opportunities available at distant points in time and space.