Geoffrey M While

Geoffrey M While
University of Tasmania · Biological Sciences

PhD

About

125
Publications
24,683
Reads
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2,133
Citations
Citations since 2016
79 Research Items
1587 Citations
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2016201720182019202020212022050100150200250300
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Introduction
I an a behavioral and evolutionary ecologist and my interests within this area are relatively broad, I work on parental care, mating systems, hybridization, climate change, maternal effects and invasion biology. However, my main area of interest is trying to understand why animals live together. Specifically, I am interested in why individuals form complex societies built around a family unit and the consequences of these societies for both ecological and evolutionary processes.
Additional affiliations
January 2015 - present
University of Tasmania
Position
  • ARC Discovery Early Career Research Fellow
August 2013 - present
University of Tasmania
Position
  • Lecturer
July 2012 - December 2016
University of Tasmania
Position
  • Lecturer
Education
September 2004 - August 2009
University of Tasmania
Field of study
  • Behavioral and Evolutionary Ecology

Publications

Publications (125)
Article
Full-text available
The Mediterranean basin is a hotspot of biodiversity, fuelled by climatic oscillation and geological change over the past 20 million years. Wall lizards of the genus Podarcis are among the most abundant, diverse, and conspicuous Mediterranean fauna. Here, we unravel the remarkably entangled evolutionary history of wall lizards by sequencing genomes...
Preprint
Full-text available
The Mediterranean Basin has experienced extensive change in geology and climate over the past six million years. Yet, the relative importance of key geological events for the distribution and genetic structure of the Mediterranean fauna remains poorly understood. Here, we use population genomic and phylogenomic analyses to establish the evolutionar...
Article
Animal sociality plays a crucial organisational role in evolution. As a result, understanding the factors that promote the emergence, maintenance, and diversification of animal societies is of great interest to biologists. Climate is among the foremost ecological factors implicated in evolutionary transitions in social organisation, but we are only...
Article
Full-text available
Species distributed across climatic gradients will typically experience spatial variation in selection, but gene flow can prevent such selection from causing population genetic differentiation and local adaptation. Here, we studied genomic variation of 415 individuals across 34 populations of the common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) in central Ita...
Article
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During the vulnerable stages of early life, most ectothermic animals experience hourly and diel fluctuations in temperature as air temperatures change. While we know a great deal about how different constant temperatures impact the phenotypes of developing ectotherms, we know remarkably little about the impacts of temperature fluctuations on the de...
Article
Evolutionary transitions in sex-determining systems have occurred frequently yet understanding how they occur remains a major challenge. In reptiles, transitions from genetic to temperature-dependent sex determination can occur if the gene products that determine sex evolve thermal sensitivity, resulting in sex-reversed individuals. However, eviden...
Article
Sex is a pervasive factor that underpins functional phenotypic variation across a range of traits. Although sex can usually be distinguished morphologically, in some species this is not possible. The development of genetic markers for sex identification is, thus, key if we are to incorporate sex into an understanding of ecological or evolutionary p...
Article
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Understanding the demographic consequences of habitat loss on populations is essential for the conservation of threatened species. The threatened swamp skink (Lissolepis coventryi) is restricted to fragmented wetland habitats in Victoria and southeast South Australia. It has experienced significant habitat loss in the last 150 years, particularly a...
Article
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There is great diversity in social behavior across the animal kingdom. Understanding the factors responsible for this diversity can help inform theory about how sociality evolves and is maintained. The Australian Tree Skink ( Egernia striolata ) exhibits inter- and intra-population variability in sociality and is therefore a good system for informi...
Article
Full-text available
Maternal stress during gestation has the potential to affect offspring development via changes in maternal physiology, such as increases in circulating levels of glucocorticoid hormones that are typical after exposure to a stressor. While the effects of elevated maternal glucocorticoids on offspring phenotype (i.e., “glucocorticoid-mediated materna...
Preprint
Full-text available
Global changes in temperature potentially influence sexual selection by restricting opportunities for activity. However, explicit tests of the behavioural mechanisms linking thermal variation to mating and reproductive performance are rare. We address this gap in a temperate lizard by combining social network analysis with molecular pedigree recons...
Article
Full-text available
The Mediterranean Basin has experienced extensive change in geology and climate over the past six million years. Yet, the relative importance of key geological events for the distribution and genetic structure of the Mediterranean fauna remains poorly understood. Here, we use population genomic and phylogenomic analyses to establish the evolutionar...
Article
Full-text available
Australian lizards are a diverse group distributed across the continent and inhabiting a wide range of environments. Together, they exhibit a remarkable diversity of reproductive morphologies, physiologies, and behaviours that is broadly representative of vertebrates in general. Many reproductive traits exhibited by Australian lizards have evolved...
Article
Emerging patterns suggest telomere dynamics and life history are fundamentally linked in endotherms through life-history traits that mediate the processes underlying telomere attrition. Unlike endotherms, ectotherms maintain the ability to lengthen somatic telomeres throughout life and the link between life-history strategies and ectotherm telomere...
Article
Full-text available
Climate can exert an effect on the strength of sexual selection, but empirical evidence is limited. Here, we tested if climate predicts the geographic distribution and introgressive spread of sexually selected male color ornamentation across 114 populations of the common wall lizard, Podarcis muralis. Coloration was highly structured across the lan...
Article
Our knowledge of the conservation status of reptiles, the most diverse class of terrestrial vertebrates, has improved dramatically over the past decade, but still lags behind that of the other tetrapod groups. Here, we conduct the first comprehensive evaluation (~92% of the world's ~1714 described species) of the conservation 1 Joint senior authors...
Article
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Context In montane systems, closely related species tend to segregate spatially along elevational gradients. The role of biotic interactions, relative to species physiological requirements, in maintaining these distribution patterns is an important question in spatial ecology. Theory suggests that the role of interspecific competition can be signif...
Preprint
Live birth is a key innovation that has evolved from egg laying over 100 times in reptiles. One significant feature in this transition is the thermal conditions experienced by developing embryos. Adult lizards and snakes often have preferred body temperatures that can be lethal to developing embryos and should prevent egg retention: how has vivipar...
Article
The rapid changes in altitude, and associated habitat, of mountain ecosystems make them ideal natural laboratories for testing the effect of environmental heterogeneity on species assemblage. Our understanding of the sensitivity of Australian reptiles to elevational clines is limited. We examined lizard distribution across three elevation zones (mo...
Article
As the earth warms, populations will be faced with novel environments to which they may not be adapted. In the short‐term, populations can be buffered against the negative effects, or maximise the beneficial effects, of such environmental change via phenotypic plasticity and, in the longer term, via adaptive evolution. However, the extent and direc...
Preprint
Full-text available
Anthropogenic climatic change will be a major factor shaping natural populations over the foreseeable future. The scope of this issue has spawned the integrative field of global change biology, which is chiefly concerned with identifying vulnerabilities of natural systems to climate change and integrating these into models of biodiversity loss. Mea...
Article
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Hybrid zones can provide insights into the evolution of reproductive isolation. Sexual selection can contribute to the evolution of reproductive barriers, but it remains poorly understood how sexual traits impact gene flow in secondary contact. Here, we show that a recently evolved suite of sexual traits that function in male‐male competition media...
Article
Thermally variable environments are particularly challenging for ectotherms as physiological functions are thermo-dependent. As a consequence, ectotherms in highly seasonal environments are predicted to have greater thermal plasticity. However, much of our understanding of thermal plasticity comes from controlled experiments in a laboratory setting...
Article
Group living often requires strong levels of communication between individuals. This communication is usually studied in the context of visual or auditory communication. However, chemical communication is the most widely used form of communication. We examined the role of chemical communication in mediating social decisions in a group‐living lizard...
Article
Full-text available
Telomere dynamics vary fundamentally between endothermic populations and species as a result of differences in life history, yet we know little about these patterns in ectotherms. In ectotherms, the relationships between climate, metabolism and life history suggest that telomere attrition should be higher at relatively high environmental temperatur...
Article
Many ectotherms behaviourally thermoregulate tomaintain their body temperatures within an optimal range. A new study suggests that turtle embryos developing inside eggs also have this capacity, and that this can have significant implications for sex determination.
Article
Small-bodied vertebrates sometimes evolve gigantism on islands, but there is a lack of consistent association with ecological factors or island characteristics. One possible reason is that, even if the ecological conditions are right, body size might fail to diverge on islands that were isolated recently or if there is gene flow between islands and...
Article
Large-scale tissue regeneration has potential consequences for telomere length through increases in cell division and changes in metabolism which increase the potential for oxidative stress damage to telomeres. The effects of regeneration on telomere dynamics have been studied in fish and marine invertebrates, but the literature is scarce for terre...
Article
The critical thermal limits of organisms and the thermal sensitivity of their performance tend to vary predictably across latitudinal gradients. There has been comparatively less investigation into variation in thermal biology with elevation, despite similar gradients in environmental temperatures. To redress this, we examined critical thermal limi...
Article
Small-bodied vertebrates sometimes evolve gigantism on islands, but there is a lack of consistent association with ecological factors or island characteristics. One possible reason is that, even if the ecological conditions are right, body size might fail to diverge on islands that were isolated recently or if there is gene flow between islands and...
Article
The critical thermal limits of organisms and the thermal sensitivity of their performance tend to vary predictably across latitudinal gradients. There has been comparatively less investigation into variation in thermal biology with elevation, despite similar gradients in environmental temperatures. To redress this, we examined critical thermal limi...
Article
Full-text available
The environment experienced by a mother can have profound effects on the fitness of her offspring (i.e., maternal effects). Maternal effects can be adaptive when the developmental environments experienced by offspring promote phenotypes that provide fitness benefits either via matching offspring phenotype to the post-developmental environment (also...
Article
Full-text available
Reptiles use pterin and carotenoid pigments to produce yellow, orange, and red colors. These conspicuous colors serve a diversity of signaling functions, but their molecular basis remains unresolved. Here, we show that the genomes of sympatric color morphs of the European common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis), which differ in orange and yellow pigm...
Article
Full-text available
The current extinction and climate change crises pressure us to predict population dynamics with ever-greater accuracy. Although predictions rest on the well-advanced theory of age-structured populations, two key issues remain poorly explored. Specifically, how the age-dependency in demographic rates and the year-to-year interactions between surviv...
Preprint
Full-text available
Reptiles use pterin and carotenoid pigments to produce yellow, orange, and red colors. These conspicuous colors serve a diversity of signaling functions, but their molecular basis remains unresolved. Here, we show that the genomes of sympatric color morphs of the European common wall lizard, which differ in orange and yellow pigmentation and in the...
Article
Fundamental to the definition of parental care is that care confers benefits to the offspring. However, the mechanisms resulting in these benefits remain poorly understood, particularly in species where postnatal care is not obligatory. Here, we address this shortcoming using a lizard, Liopholis whitii, in which family life is facultative and relat...
Article
Full-text available
Social learning is thought to be advantageous as it allows an animal to gather information quickly without engaging in costly trial-and-error learning. However, animals should be selective about when and whom they learn from. Familiarity is predicted to positively influence an animal’s reliance on social learning; yet, few studies have empirically...
Article
Strongly selected characters can be transferred from one lineage to another with limited genetic exchange, resulting in asymmetric introgression and a mosaic genome in the receiving population. However, systems are rarely sufficiently well studied to link the pattern of introgression to its underlying process. Male common wall lizards in western It...
Article
1.Phenotypic variation provides the framework for natural selection to work upon, enabling adaptive evolution. One of the most discernible manifestations of phenotypic variability is colour variation. When this variation is discrete, genetically‐based colour pattern morphs occur simultaneously within a population. 2.Why and how colour polymorphisms...
Article
Full-text available
How temperature influences development has direct relevance to ascertaining the impact of climate change on natural populations. Reptiles have served as empirical models for understanding how the environment experienced by embryos can influence phenotypic variation, including sex ratio, phenology and survival. Such an understanding has important im...
Article
ON THE COVER: The cover image, by Nathalie Feiner et al., is based on the Research Article Developmental plasticity in reptitles: Insights from temperature‐dependent gene expression in wall lizard embryos, DOI: 10.1002/jez.2175.
Article
Early life environments shape phenotypic development in important ways that can lead to long-lasting effects on phenotype and fitness. In reptiles, one aspect of the early environment that impacts development is temperature (termed 'thermal developmental plasticity'). Indeed, the thermal environment during incubation is known to influence morpholog...
Article
Populations at the climatic margins of a species' distribution can be exposed to conditions that cause developmental stress, resulting in developmental abnormalities. Even within the thermal range of normal development, phenotypes often vary with developmental temperature (i.e., thermal phenotypic plasticity). These effects can have significant con...
Article
Many features of the development of reptiles are affected by temperature, but very little is known about how incubation temperature affects gene expression. Here, we provide a detailed case study of gene expression profiles in common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) embryos developing at stressfully low (15◦C) versus benign (24◦C) temperature. For ma...
Article
Stressful conditions experienced during early development can have deleterious effects on offspring morphology, physiology and behaviour. However, few studies have examined how developmental stress influences an individual's cognitive phenotype. Using a viviparous lizard, we show that the availability of food resources to a mother during gestation...
Article
Females are predicted to alter sex allocation when ecological, physiological and behavioural variables have different consequences on the fitness of male and female offspring. Traditionally, tests of sex allocation have examined single causative factors, often ignoring possible interactions between multiple factors. Here we used a multi-factorial a...
Article
Populations adapting independently to the same environment provide important insights into the repeatability of evolution at different levels of biological organization. In the 20th century, common wall lizards (Podarcis muralis) from southern and western Europe were introduced to England, north of their native range. Non-native populations of both...
Article
Full-text available
Identifying factors responsible for the emergence and evolution of social complexity is an outstanding challenge in evolutionary biology. Here we report results from a phylogenetic comparative analysis of over 1000 species of squamate reptile, nearly 100 of which exhibit facultative forms of group living, including prolonged parent-offspring associ...
Article
Phenotypic plasticity plays a central role in determining how organisms respond to environmental change over short timescales. Despite this, we know little about how phenotypic plasticity varies between populations or species. We tested the extent of plasticity in basking behaviour in low- and high-altitude populations of two widespread lowland and...
Article
Divergence in communication systems should influence the likelihood that individuals from different lineages interbreed, and consequently shape the direction and rate of hybridization. Here, we studied the role of chemical communication in hybridization, and its contribution to asymmetric and sexually selected introgression, between two lineages of...
Article
The likelihood that females will breed or how much they invest in reproduction can depend on the characters of their male partners. Such differential allocation may enhance or limit gene flow between hybridizing lineages, in particular when the lineages have diverged in sexually selected characters. Populations of the common wall lizard (Podarcis m...
Article
Full-text available
The evolution of family living is underpinned by conflict and cooperation between family members. While family groups can be maintained by reducing conflict between parents and offspring, interactions between siblings may play an equally important role. Here, we compared the level of aggressive interactions between siblings to that between parents...
Article
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Conflict over resources is a fundamental component of family life. Family conflicts are predicted to be strongly influenced by resource availability and levels of relatedness between family members. Here, we examined the effects of these factors on intra-brood sibling conflict in a family living beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides, where offspring are...
Article
The extent to which key biological processes, such as sex determination, respond to environmental fluctuations is fundamental for assessing species' susceptibility to ongoing climate change. Few studies, however, address how climate affects offspring sex in the wild. We monitored two climatically distinct populations of the viviparous skink Niveosc...
Article
Full-text available
When and where offspring disperse has important implications for the evolutionary emergence and maintenance of group living. In noncooperative breeders, direct benefits of delayed dispersal are relatively limited, suggesting that decisions regarding whether or not to remain in the parental territory are largely driven by the availability of suitabl...
Chapter
Darwin famously described special difficulties in explaining social evolution in insects. More than a century later, the evolution of sociality - defined broadly as cooperative group living - remains one of the most intriguing problems in biology. Providing a unique perspective on the study of social evolution, this volume synthesizes the features...
Article
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Non-native animals can encounter very different environments than those they are adapted to. Functional changes in morphology, physiology and life-history following introduction show that organisms can adapt both fast and efficiently. It remains unclear, however, if female reproductive characters and male sexually selected behaviour show the same a...
Article
Full-text available
Long-term monogamy is a key characteristic of family living across animals. The evolutionary maintenance of long-term monogamy has been suggested to be facilitated by increased reproductive coordination as a result of mate familiarity, leading to increased reproductive success. However, such effects can be compromised if females mate outside the pa...
Article
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The distribution of resources should influence mate availability and the costs and benefits of pursuing different mating strategies. Where resources are dispersed, males may be constrained in the extent to which they can monopolize more than 1 partner, resulting in social and genetic monogamy. There is abundant correlational evidence that resource...
Article
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One of the major decisions individuals of many species make when deciding who to mate with is whether or not to inbreed. The prevailing theory is that individuals should avoid mating with closely related individuals because of the fitness costs associated with decreased offspring quality. However, theoretical work has suggested that levels of inbre...
Article
Full-text available
Parental care emerges as a result of an increase in the extent of interaction between parents and their offspring. These interactions can provide the foundation for the evolution of a range of complex parental behaviors. Therefore, fundamental to understanding the evolution of parental care is an understanding of the factors that promote this initi...