Bi7004 Evolutionary Ecology

Faculty of Science
Autumn 2020
Extent and Intensity
2/0/0. 2 credit(s) (plus extra credits for completion). Type of Completion: zk (examination).
prof. RNDr. Andrea Vetešníková Šimková, PhD. (lecturer)
Guaranteed by
prof. RNDr. Andrea Vetešníková Šimková, PhD.
Department of Botany and Zoology - Biology Section - Faculty of Science
Contact Person: prof. RNDr. Andrea Vetešníková Šimková, PhD.
Supplier department: Department of Botany and Zoology - Biology Section - Faculty of Science
Wed 10:00–11:50 D31/238
Prerequisites (in Czech)
Bi6340 Ekologie společ. a makroekol. && Bi8150 Evoluční biologie
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is also offered to the students of the fields other than those the course is directly associated with.
fields of study / plans the course is directly associated with
Course objectives
The central idea of the evolutionary ecology course is the interconnection of ecological and evolutionary-biological views, i.e. analyses of current and historical influences on the laws of changes in living nature. The aim of the course is to explain to students the associations between the organisms and their environment (abiotic and biotic) and the processes generating these associations from an ecological point of view, and to analyze the causes of these associations from the evolutionary perspective.
Learning outcomes
At the end of this course the student will be able: to interpret the relationships and laws observed in the living environment and to explain the mechanisms and causes of their origin. Specifically, the student will be able to define selection and adaptation, to describe the genetic basis of evolutionary changes, to interpret knowledge about the environment of organisms and interspecific interactions from the viewpoint of evolutionary ecology, to describe the life histories of organisms, their basic components and compromises, to compare the evolutionary and ecological advantages and disadvantages of sexual and asexual reproduction, to orientate in species speciation, to inspect species diversity from an evolutionary biologist perspective, and to link evolutionary ecology to immunology.
  • (1) Introduction to evolutionary ecology - introduction to the study of evolutionary ecology, interactive examples with thematic links to individual topics of lectures. Natural selection, Darwin's evolutionary scenario. Types of selection. Natural and sexual selection. Adaptation and fitness. (2) Genetic basics of evolutionary change. Genotype and phenotype, genetic interactions. Genetic and environmental components of phenotype variability. Estimation of inheritance. Changes in the allelic frequency in the population - HW equilibrium, genetic drift, gene flow, selection. Effective population size. Neutral evolution of molecular evolution. Inbreeding. Hybridization. Maintaining genetic variability. Fitness inheritance. (3) Selection and adaptation. Selection units. What and how is it selected? Group selection vs. individual selection. Selection of genes - altruism, kin selection. Factors limiting the adaptation - gene flow, time to emerge adaptation, compromises, and limitations. Description of the selection. (4) The environment of organisms from the perspective of evolutionary ecology. Habitat, niche and the role of organisms. Coevolution - another species as a fluctuating habitat (gene for gene, specific coevolution, guild coevolution, arms race, conflict of interest in the case of mutualism). Selection of resources – specialist vs. generalist. Division of resources and competition. Interpretation of niche divergence. Space free from enemies. Evidence of compromises. Ideal free distribution. Strategy for betting and aversion to risk, adaptive reversal of the coin. Relationship between distribution and abundance. Classification of habitats. (5) Evolutionary ecology of interacting species. Ecological and evolutionary processes of competition. Predation - models of dynamics in predator-prey system. What does predator do? Does the predator seek prey optimally? Energy maximization theory vs. time minimization. Strategy of prey. Parasite - parasite effect on host dynamics. Parasite strategy to prevent extinction. Co-evolution of host and parasite. Mutual interactions. (6) Life history and compromises. Life history and fitness - semelparous and iteroparous organisms. Life history - growth and development before reproduction, integration into reproduction, distribution of life-long reproduction, life after reproduction. Compromises in the evolution of life history. (7) Reproductive effort and basic components of life history. Growth and achievement of sexual maturity, role of diapause, complex life cycles, optimization of growth steps. Reproduction of semelparous and iteroparous organisms - big bang reproduction, terminal reproductive investment. Age and size in reproduction - analysis of effects on sexual maturity, models of optimal age for achieving sexual maturity. Number and size of offspring - Lack's clutch size and the deviations from this model. Reproductive life span and aging. (8) Evolutionary ecology of sexual reproduction. Evolutionary costs of sexual reproduction. The benefits of sexual reproduction. When is asexual reproduction advantageous? Some disadvantages of asexual reproduction. The origin of sexual reproduction. Sex delimitation, hermaphroditism. Sex ratio in the population and its deviation. Sexual selection - differences in opportunities for selection in males and females. Sexual selection and evolution of sexual dimorphism. (9) Ecological concept of speciation. Problems with species delimitation. Biological concept of the species - prezygotic and postzygotic reproductive-isolation mechanisms. Reproductive isolation in case of secondary contact. The role of sexual selection for prezygotic reproductive isolation. Mechanisms of allopatric speciation. Mechanisms of sympatric speciation. Parapatric speciation. Species radiation. Theories of philetic gradualism vs. punctuated equilibrium. Balance between speciation and extinction processes. (10) Diversity of organisms. What is the cause of high diversity? Global processes generating diversity - diversity in terms of area size, time of colonization, energy. Processes generating diversity within communities and regions. Extinction - mass, background, anthropogenic. Diversification. Effect of human activities on organismal diversity. (11) Evolutionary immunology - immunity of vertebrates, immune defense mechanisms, immunocompetence. Cost of immunity - immunity as a component of life history. Investing in immunity vs. investment in reproduction. Other costs associated with an immune investment. Immune genes evolution - MHC genes - Parasite-mediated selection and sexual selection, choosing good or compatible genes?
    recommended literature
  • Stearns S. C. , Hoekstra R. F. 2005. Evolution, an introduction, second edition - Oxford university Press, Oxford
  • Gotelli N. J. 1998. A Primer of Ecology, second edition - Sinauer Associates, Inc.
  • Fox C. W., Rolf D. A., Fairbain D.J. 2001. Evolutionary Ecology: Concepts and Case Studies. Oxford University Press.
  • Moya A., Font E. 2004. Evolution, from molecules to ecosystems - Oxford university press, Oxford.
  • Bell G. 2008. Selection, the mechanism of evolution, second edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Westneat D. F., Fox C. W. 2010. Evolutionary behavioral ecology - Oxford university press, Oxford.
  • Rose M. R., Mueller L. D. 2006. Evolution and ecology of the organism. Pearson Prentice Hall, USA.
  • POULIN, Robert. Evolutionary ecology of parasites. 2nd ed. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2007. x, 332. ISBN 9780691120850. info
  • FLEGR, Jaroslav. Evoluční biologie. Vyd. 1. Praha: Academia, 2005. 559 s. ISBN 8020012702. info
Teaching methods
Assessment methods
oral exam
Language of instruction
Further Comments
Study Materials
The course can also be completed outside the examination period.
The course is taught annually.
The course is also listed under the following terms Autumn 2011 - acreditation, Autumn 2015, Autumn 2016, autumn 2017, Autumn 2018, Autumn 2019.
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