Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

PhD Defence Ceremony Vincent Hin

03Nov2017 11:00


On Friday 3 November 2017, Vincent Hin will defend his PhD thesis

Thesis cover Vincent Hin

Ontogenesis: an eco-evolutionary perspective on life history complexity

Every organism undergoes some form of ontogenetic development, which represents the changes in size, shape, physiology, maturity status or behavior that occur during the organism's lifetime. In natural populations, ontogenetic development of organisms leads to differences in the way the organisms interact with their environment. Consequently, individuals from different developmental stages differ in the type and strength of their ecological interactions, a situation referred to as ontogenetic asymmetry. This opposes ontogenetic symmetry, which holds when individuals from different developmental stages have comparable ecological interactions.

Ontogenetic asymmetry pertains to most natural populations and has large consequences for the dynamics of natural populations and communities. The research in this thesis focuses on the evolutionary origins and consequences of ontogenetic asymmetry. The general question is whether and how evolution through natural selection will lead to ontogenetic asymmetry. For this purpose mathematical models are used that combine an accurate description of life-history processes (i.e. ontogenetic development, reproduction and mortality), with ecological interactions between different populations.

In chapter 2 and 3 it is described how a simple ecological setting of a consumer species feeding on a single type of food, results in the evolution of ontogenetic symmetry. In chapter 4 and 5 it is shown that increased ecological complexity through multiple ecological feedbacks can lead to the evolution of ontogenetic asymmetry. Chapter 6 describes a case in which increased ecological complexity evolves. The main result of the research in this thesis is that life-history complexity, through ontogenetic asymmetry, evolves hand-in-hand with ecological complexity.

Published by  IBED