Between September and December 2014 or team travelled over 10,000 km along eastern and central Australia to sample climatic ecotypes (i.e. locally adapted populations) of rainbowfish. We successfully managed to transport live specimens from the 7 ecotypes targeted by these expeditions to our captive breeding facility in Adelaide. All populations are already breeding! We also collected samples for studies of global gene expression in wild caught specimens (i.e. “transcriptomics in the wild”).
This research program uses an evolutionarily young and ecologically important rainbowfish clade to understand adaptive resilience and to test predictions derived from the ‘climatic variability hypothesis’ for the major climatic regions of mainland Australia. Correlative surveys along landscapes and mechanistic experimental studies will be integrated to implement a comparative evolutionary genomics framework capable of assessing the genetic basis of adaptation and the evolutionary resilience of populations and lineages. We hope to clarify climatic and geographic correlates of adaptation across a vast area of Australia and to disentangle plastic from evolutionary responses to environmental change using rainbowfishes, an emerging model system for adaptation research.
Visit our Facebook lab page for more photos and information about this project.