►I blog on my research, including inside stories, future plans and wild ideas
►I blog on the work / life balance
►I blog on the actitivies of the UvA Faculty of Science Works Council, of which I am Chair
My group and I research how ecological and evolutionary processes interact to determine the fluctuations of populations. Within this context we focus on identifying the population consequences of variation in the expression of polyphenisms (alternative male reproductive strategies [Flor Rhebergen] and dispersal polyphenism in bulb mites [Kat Stewart]) induced by e.g. environmental change or harvesting. To develop and test our hypotheses we use laboratory experiments on mites, statistical analysis of data and the construction and analysis of mathematical models. We recently applied our methods to field data on threatened populations of reef manta rays to analyse the population consequences of overfishing, and are also applying the models to the bioturbator Orchestia gammarellus in collaboration with Matty Berg (VU). On these webpages you can find out who we are and what we work on.
The alumni page provides an overview of previous student projects. Please contact me if you are interested in doing a research project on behavioural ecology, population biology, demography, either using experimental methods or theoretical tools (or both).
If you are a quantitatively driven mind with interests in eco-evolutionary dynamics, life history, demography, or related topics, please contact me to discuss potential graduate and postdoc opportunities in my group.
In particular, if you have got a project in mind that you would like to develop in my group, please contact me with a brief project proposal, CV and list of funding themes that you are considering for this project (e.g. Marie Curie, NWO-VENI).
Each year we have several Bachelor and Master students working in the lab. Please check out the alumni pages for an overview of previous projects and publications that resulted from these projects.
My research aims at developing a mechanistic framework to link ecology and evolution on the basis of the processes that drive the dynamics of heritable life history traits. I focus on understanding the maintenance and evolution of male dimorphism and the role of harvesting and environmental change in experimental and field populations. FUNDING: MacGillavry Fellowship (2013 - 2018), MEERVOUD (2014 - 2018) and VIDI (2015 - 2020) (NWO).
Kat investigates how alternative mating tactics arise and are maintained within species, employing experimental approaches that incorporate environmental and demographic parameters with population genetics. Her research interests pivot around the origins and maintenance of biodiversity from the level of local adaptation and limiting gene flow in single landscapes, through the genetics of entire species' ranges, to understanding the causes of diversification of entire clades. FUNDING: VIDI Fellowship (awarded to I.M. Smallegange).
A PhD project by Flor Rhebergen investigating how harvesting and environmental variability affect the joint dynamics of life history traits and population biomass dynamics of 'fast' Rhizoglyphus robini and 'slow' Naiadacarus arboricola populations in the lab and in the field. FUNDING: VIDI Fellowship (awarded to I.M. Smallegange).
Mark is doing his PhD under the daily supervision of Anieke van Leeuwen on fish ecology using an empirical-theoretical approach. The aim is to understand how changing climate conditions and human impacts affect the dynamics of marine fish stocks. Both Mark and Anieke are based at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, and Mark will defend his thesis at the University of Amsterdam.
To identify general patterns in how species characteristics vary across environments, research efforts of biologists increasingly rely on the analysis of big data. Yet, big data analyses without mechanistic representation of biological processes causing observed variation, complicates the necessary extrapolation beyond the existing data range, e.g. when investigating species responses to climate change.
We used a mechanistic approach to examine functional pathways by which a typical fast life history species displaying high fecundity but short life span – the beach hopper Orchestia gammarellus – and a typical slow life history species displaying low fecundity but long span – the reef manta ray Manta alfredi – differ in their sensitivity to environmental change. Opposite to big data results, we find that the fast life history species was sensitive to frequency of good-food conditions, whereas the slow life history species was sensitive to temporal autocorrelation in environmental conditions. Differences in their physiology explain why.
Big data research is now a key method to tackle big eco-societal problems. Our analysis highlights not to disregard conventional scientific methods, but to focus on mechanistic underpinnings of biological variation. The empirical cycle starts with collecting data, but its purpose is to inform theories, not to be a method in itself.
In numerous species, members of the same sex adopt different alternative reproductive tactics (ARTs). Typically, two male ARTs, or ‘morphs’, can be distinguished that differ in terms of physiology, behaviour or morphology: these are called ‘majors’ and ‘minors’. Majors in most species use weapons or ornaments to gain access to females. Minors in most species lack weapons or ornaments to gain access to females, which raises the question: how can majors and minors coexist? Coexistence of majors and minors requires that minors have some fitness advantages over majors. To examine potential fitness benefits of minors over majors, Tom used the male-dimorphic bulb mite Rhizoglyphus robini, where males are ‘fighters’ (majors) or ‘scramblers’ (minors), and performed several experiments. Tom demonstrated two fitness benefits that scramblers have over fighters: females mated to scramblers sired more offspring under some conditions, and daughters sired by scramblers had a higher fitness than daughters sired by fighters. Tom also observed that fighters frequently killed and/or cannibalised other mites. Though killing or cannibalising kin could incur an inclusive fitness cost to fighters, Tom showed that fighters tended to avoid killing and cannibalising kin. Finally, Tom provided evidence of a third male morph in the bulb mite: the ‘mega-scrambler’. His findings help to explain the maintenance of a male dimorphism, and thereby contribute to answering a key question in evolutionary biology of why variation is maintained in single populations.
ComHow evolutionary changes (like shifts in genotype and phenotype frequencies) and ecological changes (like the size, composition and growth of an animal or plant population) affect each other is a topic of intense and growing investigation in biology. Why? Because for a long time, ecologists ignored evolutionary processes as they were assumed to occur at much longer time scales (thousands to millions of years) compared to ecological processes (days to years). Vice versa, evolutionary biologists ignored ecological processes as these were assumed to occur at such short time scales that their effects would be unnoticeable at the long, evolutionary timescales. However, over the past decades, notions have changed from “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”, to “nothing in evolutionary biology makes sense except in the light of ecology”, to finally “nothing in evolution or ecology makes sense except in the light of the other”. To find out more, please check out my blog post on our contribution to the special feature!
To contribute towards integrating the field of eco-evolutionary dynamics and move the field forward, scientific journals from the British Ecological Society, including the Journal of Animal Ecology, have are putting together a cross-journal special feature entitled “The diversity of eco-evolutionary dynamics: comparing the feedbacks between ecology and evolution across scales”, edited by Franziska Brunner, Jacques Deere, Martijn Egas, Christophe Eizaguirre and Joost Raeymaekers. I have written a blog on this contribution to Journal of Animal Ecology by Jasper Croll, Martijn Egas and myself: An eco-evolutionary feedback loop between population dynamics and fighter expression affects the evolution of alternative reproductive tactics. Journal of Animal Ecology. DOI 10.1111/1365-2656.12899.
We are in great need of an integrative framework to allows ecologists to predict life history strategies (i.e. the different ways in which individuals trade-off resource investment into survival or reproduction) from functional traits: traits of individuals that inform on the performance of a population of plants or animals as a whole. To contribute towards building such a framework, the scientific journals Journal of Animal Ecology, Journal of Ecology and Functional Ecology, all from the British Ecological Society (BES), have just published a cross-journal special feature entitled “Linking organismal functions, life history strategies and population performance”, edited by Roberto Salguero-Gómez, Cyrille Violle, Olivier Gimenez, and Dylan Childs. I have written a blog on my contribution to Journal of Animal Ecology within the special feature entitled "Trait‐based predictions and responses from laboratory mite populations to harvesting in stochastic environments" to the special issue (Journal of Animal Ecology 87: 893-905).
Tom van den Beuken's first PhD paper on "Male nutritional history affects female fecundity in a male‑dimorphic mite: Evidence for a nuptial gift?" is out now in Evolutionary Ecology. Great work!
Individuals, be they plants or animals, are rarely equal. Does it matter that individuals differ? More specifically, what are the consequences for the dynamics of populations of such differences between individuals, also referred to as individual heterogeneity? And how does individual heterogeneity affect the evolution of traits? Oikos has just published a special issue with a collection of papers that tackle such questions. I have written a blog on my contribution entitled "Population consequences of individual heterogeneity in life histories: overcompensation in response to harvesting of alternative reproductive tactics" to the special issue (Oikos 127: 738-749). Also check out the Oikos blog.
In the week of 16-20 April, works council elections were held for the faculties of Economics & Business, Humanities, Science and Social and Behavioural Sciences. On Tuesday, 24 April, the Central Voting Office announced the results of these elections. Of all 54 available places across the different faculties, 17 went to DAA! At the faculty of Science, 9 out of 15 seats were won by DAA (fair enough: one by throwing a dice!). Let's look forward to a very constructive works council term.
De medezeggenschapsvereniging De Amsterdamse Academie wil actief deelnemen aan ondernemingsraden van de UvA op een kritische en constructieve wijze. Zij wil hiermee een alternatief bieden voor de verkiezingslijsten die ontstaan zijn naar aanleiding van de Maagdenhuisbezetting van 2015 en de traditionele vakbondslijsten. In 2018 zullen nieuwe verkiezingen plaatsvinden. De Amsterdamse Academie wil in alle faculteiten aan deze verkiezingen deelnemen. Zie ook het bericht in Folia.
Jacques' paper on how dispersal expression affects natal population growth and structure has now been accepted by Ecological Modelling. Congratulations!
The student projects of Rianne Fernandes and Jasper Croll are now published in Oikos. Great work!
Come join us at the mite-modelling-mini-session at the annual meeting of the Dutch society of theoretical biology. Both Jacques Deere and Isabel Smallegange will talk about integral projection models parameterised for mites. The keynote speaker, Willem Bouten, will also touch upon this topic!
Laura will be based in the group of Willem Bouten at IBED/UvA and will start her Fellowship later this year. She will be working on the ecological and evolutionary consequences of predator-prey phenological match-mismatch driven by climate change using Eleonora's falcon as a study system. For part of her project she will work with us to construct an integral projection model for this species, which has a genetically based colour polymorphism. Exciting!
Kat just travelled halfway across the globe from Shanghai to Amsterdam to start a 2-year post doc on the genetics of eco-evolutionary dynamics. She has a strong background in genetics, and we welcome her expertise!
Jacques Deere, along with four other including Martijn Egas from IBED, are organising a symposium on eco-evolutionary dynamics at the ESEB Congress in Groningen. Keynote speakers are: Jen Schweitzer, Jonathan Pruitt, Isabel Smallegange and Andrew Hendry. Come join us at ESEB!
Jacques investigated, using the bulb mite ( Rhizoglyphus robini) as a study species, the influence of dispersal propensity on population size and structure, life histories and how these change with stochastic environments.
See also: http://jacquesdeere.wordpress.com/about/.
Laura won a Marie Curie Fellowship and was based in the group of Willem Bouten. In her Post Doc she studied the ecological and evolutionary consequences of predator-prey phenological match-mismatch driven by climate change using Eleonora's falcon as a study system. Interestingly, Eleonora's falcon has a genetically determined colour polymorphism that covaries with behavioural traits and, together with Isabel, she aimed to explore the eco-evolutionary dynamics of variation in this colour polymorphism using integral projection models.
Many species exhibit two discrete male morphs: fighters and sneakers. Fighters are large and possess weapons that they use to kill rival males. Sneakers are small without weapons but can sneak matings. Tom's PhD research focused on finding out why such discrete morphs can coexist in single populations and what drivers underlie the expression of such dimorphisms. FUNDING: MacGillavry Fellowship (awarded to I.M. Smallegange).
One of the things I am most proud of about my research group is the fact that Master students at very early stages of their careers have completed projects that have gone on to be published in the international, peer-reviewed journals. Papers that resulted from their work are given below.
van den Beuken TPG, Stockwell L, Smallegange IM. 2019. Et tu, brother? Kinship and increased nutrition lower cannibalism incidence in male bulb mites. Animal Behaviour 152: 45-52
Stewart KA, Draaijer R, Kolasa MR, Smallegange IM. 2019. The role of genetic diversity in the evolution and maintenance of environmentally-cued, male alternative reproductive tactics. BMC Evolutionary Biology 19:58
van den Beuken TPG, Duinmeijer CC, Smallegange IM. 2019. Costs of weaponry: unarmed males sire more offspring than armed males in a male-dimorphic mite. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 32: 153-162
Smallegange IM, Ens HM. 2018. Trait‐based predictions and responses from laboratory mite populations to harvesting in stochastic environments. Journal of Animal Ecology 87: 893-905.
Smallegange IM, Fernandes RE, Croll JC. 2018. Population consequences of individual heterogeneity in life histories: overcompensation in response to harvesting of alternative reproductive tactics. Oikos 127: 738-749 doi: 10.1111/oik.04130
Croll JC, Egas M, Smallegange IM. 2019. An eco-evolutionary feedback loop between population dynamics and fighter expression affects the evolution of alternative reproductive tactics. Journal of Animal Ecology 88: 11-23.
Smallegange IM, Caswell H, Toorians, MEM, de Roos, AM. 2017. Mechanistic understanding of population dynamics using dynamic energy budget theory incorporated into integral projection models. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 8: 146-154
Smallegange IM, van der Ouderaa IBC, Tibiriça Y. 2016. The effect of yearling, juvenile and adult survival on reef manta ray (Manta alfredi) demography. PeerJ 4:e2370
Leigh DM, Smallegange IM.2014. Effects of variation in nutrition on male morph development in the bulb mite Rhizoglyphus robini. Experimental and Applied Acarology 64: 159-170.
Dawson, E.H., Chittka, L. 2012. Conspecific and Heterospecific Information Use in Bumblebees. PLoS ONE 7(2): e31444. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031444
Smallegange IM, Charalambous M, Thorne N. 2012. Fitness trade-offs and the maintenance of alternative male morphs in the bulb mite (Rhizoglyphus robini). Journal of Evolutionary Biology 25:972-980.
Godsall B, Smallegange IM. 2011. Assessment games in the mangrove tree-dwelling crab, Selatium brockii (De Man, 1887). Crustaceana 84:1697-1718.
Smallegange IM, van Noordwijk CGE, van der Meer J, van der Veer HW. 2009. Spatial distribution of shore crab Carcinus maenas in an intertidal environment in relation to their morphology, prey availability and competition. Marine Ecology Progress Series 392:143-155.
Smallegange IM, Hidding B, Eppenga JMA, van der Meer J. 2008. Optimal foraging and risk of claw damage: how flexible are shore crabs in their prey size selectivity? Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 367:157-163.
Smallegange IM, van der Meer J, Kurvers RHJM. 2006. Disentangling interference competition from exploitative competition in a crab-bivalve system using a novel experimental approach. Oikos 113:157-167.