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.
Science Advances - The feedback between selection and demography shapes genomic diversity during coevolution
Rapid changes in the genome of two closely interlinked species cannot be explained only by processes such as evolutionary pressure. Equally important is the role played by ecological processes, for example the dynamics of population size. This has been shown for the first time experimentally by an international team of researchers using an alga and a virus. Cas, Philine and their colleagues from University of Konstanz were able to combine data on the development of the population sizes, strength of the agents and genetic changes. They found that adaptations took place quickly and always at the same time. But the changes cannot be explained solely by existing models for coevolution. Change in population size, especially, must also be considered.