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More than 60% of earth’s terrestrial surface is managed by humans as agriculture, pasture, or urbanized areas, and land conversion continues to be the primary driver of global biodiversity loss. Despite this, little is known about the impacts of land management on multi-species interactions, gene flow, and ecosystem function. The Jha Lab investigates ecological and evolutionary processes from genes to landscapes, to quantify global change impacts on plant-animal interactions, movement ecology, and the provisioning of ecosystem services.
Life at high altitude is associated with many physiological challenges, including exposure to conspicuous stressors such as hypoxia and extreme cold. Consequently, most animals living at high altitude have been under strong selection to develop adaptations to these challenges. Unveiling adaptations in other high-altitude-living animals, including nonhuman primates, could therefore help illuminate the mechanisms underlying adaptive evolution of myriad traits. Here, we investigated the genetic adaptations to high altitude in a novel nonhuman primate model, the gelada monkey.
To gain expertise in a field is to understand and use underlying disciplinary principles. Too often students rely on rote memorization to solve problems rather than apply appropriate principles of physics that governs biological phenomena, that is, use principle-based reasoning. Students who rely on memorization can list the steps of generating an action potential or stomatal opening but cannot reason to a correct prediction when changes are introduced in the system, e.g. when a toxin is applied.
Organisms respond to climate change via tracking through space or time, phenotypic plasticity, or evolution. A key question is whether plasticity facilitates evolution by enabling persistence or hinders evolution by buffering selection. I will present a phenotype-based forecasting framework for montane butterflies, which finds that plasticity facilitates evolution by reducing fluctuations in selection, particularly in more seasonal environments. Repeating historic lab and field studies and examining museum specimens reveals both the viability of evolutionary responses and t