Background

marie_curie_actions_logo_black_backgroundWelcome to this website about the EcoEvoMimic project, which runs from 2015 to 2016 and is funded by a European Union Marie Curie Fellowship. The aim of this site is to provide some background details on the project, to give regular (approximately twice-monthly) updates on progress with some additional background information, and to disseminate the findings as they are published. The project is being coordinated at the School of Biology in the University of Leeds, and is led by Dr Christopher Hassall. You can find out more about Dr Hassall’s work at his website.

About the project

All animals and plants interact with other animals and plants in some way. Sometimes they eat or are eaten by other organisms (e.g. fox and rabbit), sometimes they compete with one another over access to nutrients (e.g. birds scrabbling over a bird table), and sometimes they work together for mutual benefit (e.g. fungi and algae in lichens). Often these associations have been built-up over a long history of co-existence, during which a degree of balance has been struck such that the animals co-occur in a stable manner. However, rapid, human-induced climate change has the potential to “decouple” these interacting species.

The EcoEvoMimic proposal will consider, for the first time, the effects of climate change on a mimicry system: hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae) that mimic stinging bees and wasps (Hymenoptera). Both groups are economically-important pollinators, and both are currently in decline across much of their ranges. The project will determine the ecological responses to climate change in these taxa, and the evolutionary consequences of those responses, as well as providing novel experimental tests for hypotheses that explain the evolution of mimicry across a range of taxa. The techniques used in the EcoEvoMimic project comprise a set of complementary comparative analyses and experimental approaches with innovative combinations of existing paradigms which together give a comprehensive overview of this charismatic and important model system.