Human-induced environmental changes affect natural habitats more deeply, more rapidly and more sustainably than practically any other ecological force before. Recent climate change and anthropogenic noise are particularly widespread and powerful agents of human-induced environmental change.
What options do organisms have to deal with these problems? For example, birds in seasonal environments have to synchronise their breeding activity with peak food availability for their chicks – but how do they get their timing of breeding right in our ever warming springs? Grasshoppers eat grass – so how will they deal with changes in the quality of their food plants resulting from future climate change? Male grasshoppers rely on complex acoustic signals to attract females – but how do they manage to get their tunes across in an increasingly noisy world?
We are interested in the fundamental biological mechanisms that allow organisms to cope with human-induced changes: What is the relative role of phenotypic plasticity, adaptive microevolution or epigenetic effects? Providing answers to this question will not only give rise to a more comprehensive understanding of how organisms deal with their ever-changing environments, but will also contribute to more informed conservation and management decisions.
Ecological & evolutionary response to climate change: the role of phenotypic plasticity
Lampe, U., Reinhold, K. & Schmoll, T. (in press). How grasshoppers respond to road noise: Developmental plasticity and population differentiation in acoustic signalling. Functional Ecology
Lampe, U., Schmoll, T., Franzke, A. & Reinhold, K. (2012). Staying tuned: grasshoppers from noisy roadside habitats produce courtship signals with elevated frequency components. Functional Ecology 26: 1348-1354. | DOI