In June 2011 the French Ecological Society has supported a conference on Evolutionary Rescue hosted in Montpellier. The aim of this conference was to synthesize recent advances improving our understanding of the role of evolutionary mechanisms in species responses to global change and of how these mechanisms may affect biodiversity patterns.

The video of this conference will be realeased online on our website during the month of october 2011 (one topic every week). The video are open to comments and we hope you will participate to this very original experience of « virtual » conference by posting your questions. The authors will try to respond online, this is a unique opportunity to bring the scientific discussion beyong the limit of a one day conference !

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Please post your comments in the « Ecrire un commentaire » section at the end of this page. Make clear in your question to what talk you are refering to.

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Topic two: Migration, plasticity and adaptation

Mark Kirkpatrick (University of Texas, USA)

The evolution of a species’ range by beneficial mutations 


Andrew Gonzalez (McGill University, Canada)

Range Shift and Evolutionary Rescue in a Deteriorating Environment. 

Global environmental change is causing unprecedented rates of population extirpation, giving rise to concern that the rate of environmental change may exceed the capacity of populations to adapt. I will present experimental results that show the conditions required for evolutionary rescue to prevent range collapse and extinction across many, potentially interconnected populations. Ecological and evolutionary theory predicts a variety of different range dynamics following environmental change, including range collapse, expansion, and directional shifts, but although some field evidence exists these predictions have remained untested by experiment. We used high-throughput, robot-based, technology to track the eco-evolutionary dynamics of model species’ ranges composed of many populations, with and without dispersal, during environmental deterioration. Range adaptation and persistence was favored by local dispersal and gradual deterioration. Adaptation to an episode of abrupt and severe environmental stress was greatest in ranges that had previously experienced environmental deterioration and dispersal. Evolutionary rescue in response to abrupt change occurred at the level of the population and the range. Adaptation was surprisingly frequent and rapid in small peripheral populations, a result we believe requires theoretical analysis. These results demonstrate the importance of evolutionary dynamics for range persistence and adaptation following environmental deterioration.

Frank Schurr (Potsdam University, Germany) & Katja Schiffers (Grenoble University, LECA, France)

Evolutionary responses to climate change in nature and their demographic consequences 

In this talk, we present two approaches investigating large-scale, eco-evolutionary dynamics of plants exposed to environmental change. The first approach is a landscape-scale, individual-based simulation framework developed to address conceptual questions on the interactive effects of local adaptation, genetic drift and demographic processes on species’ responses to climate change. Two polygenic traits – the level of adaptation to the local environment and to global climate – are considered to control population fitness and to evolve under changing climatic conditions. Systematic variation of the degree of gene flow, selection pressure and habitat fragmentation allows to evaluate under which conditions evolutionary rescue is possible. Secondly, we consider how rates of microevolution over sub-continental scales can be assessed by combining individual-based, eco-evolutionary models with demographic and quantitative genetic data. This approach is exemplified by a model for how the growth period length of boreal trees evolves under global warming. The detailed description of demographic processes in this model also enables one to assess how climate change effects on adult tree mortality and long-distance dispersal by wind might alter the rules of the eco-evolutionary game.

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Organisation : Ophélie Ronce , Nicolas Mouquet and Fadela Tamoune

Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution – CNRS
UMR 5554 – Université de Montpellier II – CC 065
34095 MONTPELLIER Cedex 05

email organisation : evorescu (at)

Conference website.

This event was organized with the help of: