Tobias Uller's research while affiliated with University of Southampton and other places

Publications (235)

Article
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The origin of the common wall lizards (Podarcis muralis) populations in south-eastern Europe (namely in Bulgaria and Romania), representing the north-eastern range border of this species, was addressed using mitochondrial DNA. We compared cytochrome b sequences from Bulgaria and Romania with those from the contiguous range in Central Europe that ar...
Article
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Evolutionary changes in brain and craniofacial development have endowed humans with unique cognitive and social skills, but also predisposed us to debilitating disorders in which these traits are disrupted. What are the developmental genetic underpinnings that connect the adaptive evolution of our cognition and sociality with the persistence of men...
Article
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Deciphering the genotype–phenotype map necessitates relating variation at the genetic level to variation at the phenotypic level. This endeavour is inherently limited by the availability of standing genetic variation, the rate of spontaneous mutation to novo genetic variants, and possible biases associated with induced mutagenesis. An interesting a...
Article
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Evolutionary biology is paying increasing attention to the mechanisms that enable phenotypic plasticity, evolvability, and extra‐genetic inheritance. Yet, there is a concern that these phenomena remain insufficiently integrated within evolutionary theory. Understanding their evolutionary implications would require focusing on phenotypes and their v...
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Transgenerational inheritance of environmentally-induced epigenetic marks can have significant impacts on eco-evolutionary dynamics, but the phenomenon remains controversial in ecological model systems. We used whole-genome bisulfite sequencing of individual water fleas (Daphnia magna) to assess whether environmentally-induced DNA methylation is tr...
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Animal coloration is often expressed in periodic patterns that can arise from differential cell migration, yet how these processes are regulated remains elusive. We show that a female-limited polymorphism in dorsal patterning (diamond/chevron) in the brown anole is controlled by a single Mendelian locus. This locus contains the gene CCDC170 that is...
Article
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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
Many populations of water fleas (Daphnia) are exposed to algal blooms dominated by microcystin‐producing cyanobacteria. However, the severity of these effects on Daphnia fitness remain poorly understood in natural populations. We investigated seasonal changes in body size, reproduction and survival of D. longispina individuals from five eutrophic l...
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...
Preprint
Environmental stress can result in epigenetic modifications that are passed down several generations. Such epigenetic inheritance can have significant impact on eco-evolutionary dynamics, but the phenomenon remains controversial in ecological model systems. Here, we used whole-genome bisulfite sequencing on individual water fleas ( Daphnia magna )...
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Background Biological evolution exhibits an extraordinary capability to adapt organisms to their environments. The explanation for this often takes for granted that random genetic variation produces at least some beneficial phenotypic variation in which natural selection can act. Such genetic evolvability could itself be a product of evolution, but...
Article
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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...
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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...
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The gut microbiome is increasingly recognized for its impact on host fitness, but it remains poorly understood how naturally variable environments influence gut microbiome diversity and composition. We studied changes in the gut microbiome of ten genotypes of water fleas Daphnia magna in submerged mesocosm enclosures in a eutrophic lake over a peri...
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Increases in phenotypic variation under extreme (e.g. novel or stressful) environmental conditions is emerging as a crucial process through which evolutionary adaptation can occur. Lack of prior stabilising selection, as well as potential instability of developmental processes in these environments, may lead to a release of phenotypic variation tha...
Article
Diversifications often proceed along highly conserved, evolutionary trajectories. These patterns of covariation arise in ontogeny, which raises the possibility that adaptive morphologies are biased towards trait covariations that resemble growth trajectories. Here, we test this prediction in the diverse clade of Anolis lizards by investigating the...
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
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...
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Colour polymorphisms are widely studied to identify the mechanisms responsible for the origin and maintenance of phenotypic variability in nature. Two of the mechanisms of balancing selection currently thought to explain the long-term persistence of polymorphisms are the evolution of alternative phenotypic optima through correlational selection on...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Biological evolution exhibits an extraordinary capability to adapt organisms to their environments. The explanation for this often takes for granted that random genetic variation produces at least some beneficial phenotypic variation in which natural selection can act. Such genetic evolvability could itself be a product of evolution, bu...
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...
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Anolis lizards originated in continental America but have colonized the Greater Antillean islands and recolonized the mainland, resulting in three major groups (Primary and Secondary Mainland and Greater Antillean). The adaptive radiation in the Greater Antilles has famously resulted in the repeated evolution of ecomorphs. Yet, it remains poorly un...
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...
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The survival prospects of threatened species or populations can sometimes be improved by adaptive change. Such evolutionary rescue is particularly relevant when the threat comes from changing environments, or when long‐term population persistence requires range expansion into new habitats. Conservation biologists are therefore often interested in w...
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Explaining the evolutionary origin and maintenance of color polymorphisms is a major challenge in evolutionary biology. Such polymorphisms are commonly thought to reflect the existence of alternative behavioral or life-history strategies under negative frequency-dependent selection. The European common wall lizard Podarcis muralis exhibits a striki...
Article
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Plasticity can put evolution on repeat if development causes species to generate similar morphologies in similar environments. Anolis lizards offer the opportunity to put this role of developmental plasticity to the test. Following colonization of the four Greater Antillean islands, Anolis lizards independently and repeatedly evolved six ecomorphs...
Article
Full-text available
Plasticity can put evolution on repeat if development causes species to generate similar morphologies in similar environments. Anolis lizards offer the opportunity to put this role of developmental plasticity to the test. Following colonization of the four Greater Antillean islands, Anolis lizards independently and repeatedly evolved six ecomorphs...
Article
Full-text available
Plasticity can put evolution on repeat if development causes species to generate similar morphologies in similar environments. Anolis lizards offer the opportunity to put this role of developmental plasticity to the test. Following colonization of the four Greater Antillean islands, Anolis lizards independently and repeatedly evolved six ecomorphs...
Preprint
Full-text available
Biological evolution exhibits an extraordinary capability to adapt organisms to their environments. The explanation for this often takes for granted that random genetic variation produces at least some beneficial phenotypic variation for natural selection to act on. Such genetic evolvability could itself be a product of evolution, but it is widely...
Article
Full-text available
Phenotypic responses to a novel or extreme environment are initially plastic, only later to be followed by genetic change. Whether or not environmentally induced phenotypes are sufficiently recurrent and fit to leave a signature in adaptive evolution is debated. Here, we analyze multivariate data from 34 plant reciprocal transplant studies to test:...
Article
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The phylogenetic relationships and possible origin of a putative non-native population of Podarcis muralis in Ukraine were assessed based on sequences of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome b . Phylogenetic analysis showed that the Ukrainian lizards belong to two distinct mitochondrial lineages (haplogroups), both occurring within the Central Balkan...
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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
The diversity of genetic and non-genetic processes that make offspring resemble their parents are increasingly well understood. In addition to genetic inheritance, parent–offspring similarity is affected by epigenetic, behavioural and cultural mechanisms that collectively can be referred to as non-genetic inheritance. Given the generality of the Pr...
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Genetic factors are often overlooked in conservation planning, despite their importance in small isolated populations. We used mitochondrial and microsatellite markers to investigate population genetics of the adder (Vipera berus) in southern Britain, where numbers are declining. We found no evidence for loss of heterozygosity in any of the populat...
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The radiation of Anolis lizards in the Caribbean is associated with a diversification of the functional match between morphology, habitat use, and locomotor performance. It has been hypothesized that the microhabitat a lizard is reared in can achieve a similar fit of form and function within a species. This predicts that plasticity in the locomotor...
Article
Parasites have evolved a diversity of lifestyles that exploit the biology of their hosts. Some nematodes that parasitize mammals pass via the placenta or milk from one host to another. Similar cases of vertical transmission have never been reported in avian and nonavian reptiles, suggesting that egg laying may constrain the means of parasite transm...
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Developmental plasticity looks like a promising bridge between ecological and developmental perspectives on evolution. Yet, there is no consensus on whether plasticity is part of the explanation for adaptive evolution or an optional "add-on" to genes and natural selection. Here, we suggest that these differences in opinion are caused by differences...
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
Environmentally induced phenotypes have been proposed to initiate and bias adaptive evolutionary change toward particular directions. The potential for this to happen depends in part on how well plastic responses are aligned with the additive genetic variance and covariance in traits. Using meta-analysis, we demonstrate that plastic responses to no...
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The theoretical status of 'niche construction' in evolution is intensely debated. Here we substantiate the reasons for different interpretations. We consider two concepts of niche construction brought to bear on evolutionary theory; one that emphasizes how niche construction contributes to selection and another that emphasizes how it contributes to...
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...
Data
Additional simulation results. Evolutionary trajectories and evolved plasticity in the absence of cost of plasticity for SSWM (A and B) and population models (C and D). (TIF)
Data
Simulation code. Code used to generate all results shown in the paper. (RAR)
Data
Fitness cost of plasticity and tracking. Numerical calculations of the expected long-term fitness costs of adaptively plastic and adaptive tracking populations. (PDF)
Article
Full-text available
Adaptive plasticity allows organisms to cope with environmental change, thereby increasing the population’s long-term fitness. However, individual selection can only compare the fitness of individuals within each generation: if the environment changes more slowly than the generation time (i.e., a coarse-grained environment) a population will not ex...
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
We used genetic data to identify the native-range geographic origin of introduced wall lizards, ( Podarcis muralis ) in Wales
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An adverse intrauterine environment is associated with long-term physiological changes in offspring. These are believed to be mediated by epigenomic marks, including DNA methylation (DNAm). Changes in DNAm are often interpreted as damage or plastic responses of the embryo. Here, we propose that stochastic DNAm variation, generated during remodeling...
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
Full-text available
Organisms that regularly encounter stressful environments are expected to use cues to develop an appropriate phenotype. Water fleas (Daphnia spp.) are exposed to toxic cyanobacteria during seasonal algal blooms, which reduce growth and reproductive investment. Because generation time is typically shorter than the exposure to cyanobacteria, maternal...
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...
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A recurrent theme in evolutionary biology is to contrast natural selection and developmental constraint – two forces pitted against each other as competing explanations for organismal form. Despite its popularity, this juxtaposition is deeply misleading.... Phenotypic variation is generated by the processes of development, with some variants arisin...
Article
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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.
Preprint
Full-text available
Adaptive plasticity allows organisms to cope with environmental change, thereby increasing the population's long-term fitness. However, individual selection can only compare the fitness of individuals within each generation: if the environment changes more slowly than the generation time (i.e., a coarse-grained environment) a population will not ex...
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...
Preprint
Full-text available
Maternal adversity is associated with long-term physiological changes in offspring. These are believed to be mediated through epigenetic mechanisms, including DNA methylation (DNAm). Changes in DNAm are often interpreted as damage or as part of plastic responses of the embryo. We propose that selection on stochastic DNAm differences generated durin...
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
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...