List of symposia

S01. Tug of war between the sexes: The transcriptomic architecture of sex-linked traits

Sexually dimorphic- and in their most drastic from- sex-limited phenotypes result from sexually antagonistic selection and are largely realized via differential gene expression. Since the sexes share a genome, the same set of genes can be subject to different, even opposing, selection in the two sexes. In this symposium, we investigate the transcriptomic architecture of sex-linked traits including morphological, physiological as well as behavioral sex-differences. We encourage submissions that apply new sequencing technologies, functional assays and analyses that contribute to our understanding of how sex-linked traits are build up, how they evolve under particular selective constraints and how sexual conflict is traceable and probably resolved on the molecular level. This symposium will target core questions of evolutionary biology such as the interplay of natural and sexual selection and the costs of non-adaptive trait evolution. Contributions will shed light on evolutionary paths of genes that have a different function in each sex and aims to tackle how sex-specific traits are build up from a common genome. With this topic, the symposium will contribute to a next step in evolutionary biology aiming to connect models of sequence evolution and predictions of the power of selective forces with functional data.

Symposium organisers: Astrid Böhne, Leon Hilgers

Invited talks: Armin Moczek, Tanja Schwander 

S02. Sex chromosome evolution: the canonical model and so much beyond

Sex chromosomes are proposed to evolve from a pair of homologous autosomes, where a sex-determining locus evolved and recombination suppression triggered gradual structural changes such as accumulation of sexually-antagonistic alleles, recombination arrest, accumulation of repeats, loss of functional genes and heterochromatinization. This model represents the classical paradigm for decades, implying a roughly linear process of sex chromosome degeneration from homomorphism to heteromorphism. Recently, comparative genomics have revealed an incredible diversity on the morphology, structure, age and stage of sex chromosomes in non-model species, questioning the role of previously assumed evolutionary drivers and other aspects of sex chromosome differentiation. It remains unclear why lineages differ so substantially in the degree of differentiation and the long-term stability of sex chromosomes. The current advances on genetic and genomic methodologies allow us to explore long-lasting enigmas on sex chromosome evolution across the tree of life, such as the role of sexual antagonism, chromosomal rearrangement, mechanisms of dosage compensation, differentiation rates and turnovers of sex chromosomes. Now, we are able more than ever before to address the dynamics and test alternative models of sex chromosome evolution. We welcome all studies exploring the evolution of sex chromosomes and sex determination with either theoretical or empirical approaches.

Organisers: Michail Rovatsos, Wen-Juan Ma

Invited speakers: Tatiana Giraud, Tony Gamble 

S03. Diversity and evolution in sperm, ova, and other primary reproductive traits

Despite the highly conserved function of primary reproductive characters (gametes and associated tissues), there is astounding diversity in these traits, for example, in the morphology and molecular composition of spermatozoa, pollen, and female reproductive structures. This apparent paradox generates numerous questions fundamental to evolutionary biology and theory. Answering these questions will require collaboration across many subfields. Emerging questions include: What are the relative contributions of sexual versus natural selection in generating diversity, and to what extent do male and female phenotypes co-evolve? How do genomic architecture, genic variation, and differential gene expression interact to produce the vast diversity of reproductive characters we observe? What role do these characters play in promoting speciation and maintaining biodiversity? How do primary reproductive characters interact with other traits, both at a physiological level and in terms of evolutionary trajectory? How does variation in primary reproductive characters impact species’ adaptive responses to novel challenges such as climate change and biological invasions? This symposium synthesizes current research addressing such questions in an integrative context and across taxonomic groups to provide insights into the selective pressures determining fertilization success, evolutionary mechanisms, speciation processes, and responses to anthropogenic change.

Symposium organisers: Emily Cramer, Emma Whittington, Martin Garlovsky

Invited talks: Jeanne Tonnabel, Stefan Lüpold 

S04. The evolutionary ecology of mating systems

Mating systems have crystallised the attention of evolutionary biologists since Darwin’s famous book on the subject. Uniparentally–reproducing individuals can outcompete their outcrossing counterparts in several evolutionary processes, but outcrossing appears to be advantageous in the long term through being able to better adapt to stressful environments.

Mating system research has been the subject of both evolutionary (e.g., how outcrossing and sex promote more efficient selection) and ecological studies (e.g., plant–pollinator interactions, studies of species invasiveness). Nevertheless, interactions between the two fields remain rare, despite recent approaches that blur traditional boundaries (such as those that analyse genomic data from field samples). This symposium will unite speakers from different disciplines to facilitate ideas on how to successfully integrate both ecological and evolutionary approaches into this exciting research field, along with what challenges need to be overcome. This interaction is reflected in the keynote speakers, which have complementary evolutionary and ecological approaches to studying this topic. This topic also has important applications, as knowing how the mating system evolves in response to environmental stress will aid conservation and biodiversity efforts, making this session particularly timely.

Symposium organisers: Matthew Hartfield, Josselin Clo

Invited talks: Diala Abu Awad, Laura Galloway 

S05. A combinatorial view on rapid speciation - the role of ancient genetic variants and hybridisation

Recent genomic advances have revealed that hybridisation is much more common than previously thought and the genetic variants that directly contribute to rapid speciation or adaptation often are the result of introgression between species. These recent findings provide an answer to the puzzle of rapid speciation and how in adaptive radiations, multiple successive speciation events can occur in rapid succession. An important role of ancient genetic variants has recently been confirmed in many classic cases of rapid adaptation and speciation such as those of Darwin's finches, Hawaiian silverswords, Heliconius butterflies, East African cichlid fishes, stickleback fish, or Caribbean pupfishes. Combinatorial speciation using ancient genetic variants circumvents long wait times for adaptive mutations and the slow buildup of reproductive isolation through accumulating incompatibilities. This symposium aims to show the commonalities of these classical study systems but also highlight less well-known cases of rapid speciation and adaptive radiation where an important role of old genetic variants has been found. We seek to understand how widespread combinatorial speciation may be and how it interacts with other processes that can enhance speciation rate, such as sexual selection. We are committed to making a diverse symposium in terms of speakers, study systems, and methods.

Symposium organisers: Genevieve Kozak, Joana Meier, David Marques

Invited talks: Kate Ostevik, Emilie Richards 

S06. Revisiting chromosomal speciation in the genomic era

Chromosomal speciation implies that major karyological rearrangements, such as inversions or chromosomal fusions or fissions, can cause reproductive isolation between populations and thus promote speciation. While such rearrangements have been the focus of classic theoretical work, empirical evidence for chromosomal speciation remains contentious. The recent availability of chromosome-level genome assemblies has though resulted in a surge of both theoretical and empirical interest in chromosomal speciation.

Our symposium asks to what extent major chromosomal rearrangements can act as intrinsic barriers to gene flow. Are they by themselves sufficient to result in speciation, or do they promote speciation by interacting with other barriers? How do chromosomal rearrangements evolve in the first place and why are some taxonomic groups more variable in their karyotype than others? Do higher rates of chromosomal evolution result in higher rates of speciation? Do the evolutionary processes and mechanisms differ between species whose chromosomes have localized centromeres, and those who are holocentric? Finally, do chromosomal rearrangements have a different evolutionary impact depending on whether autosomes or sex chromosomes are involved? We aim to address these open questions from a broad perspective, bringing together both theoretical and empirical research on taxa from across the tree of life.

Symposium organisers: Kay Lucek, Hannah Augustijnen

Invited talks: Marcial Escudero, Petr Nguyen 

S07. Chromosome rearrangements in evolution

The role of structural genomic variants (SVs) driving evolution has been a long-standing question in evolutionary biology. How chromosomes change over time and their potential links to adaptation and speciation are questions that we can now start to unravel. New technologies are making possible to assemble at chromosome-level the genomes of a broad range of organisms, coupled with the democratization of re-sequencing techniques we can now study structural genomic variants within and between species.

In this symposium we will bring together new research on SVs in evolution, with a particular emphasis in chromosome rearrangements. SVs and chromosome reshuffling have been long overlooked in evolutionary biology, largely due to a disconnect between cytogeneticists and evolutionary biologist. With this symposium we will bridge both traditional silos and bring attention to the fascinating field of cytogenomics in an evolutionary setting.

Symposium organisers: Marta Farre Belmonte, Cristina Arias-Sardá

Invited talks: Octavio Manuel Palacios-Giménez, Aurora Ruiz-Herrera

S08. Integrative biogeography: Past, present, future

Biogeography, the distribution of species over space and time, is a dynamic field influenced by geology, ecology, evolution and the environment and it requires truly integrative investigation. Biogeographic processes are intimately linked with evolutionary change through vicariance and peripatry, gene flow, drift, and ecological opportunity arising during colonization and promoting adaptive radiations. Moreover, researchers are increasingly uncovering ways that a species’ biogeographic history can affect its potential for evolutionary rescue under contemporary change. Thus resolving biogeographical patterns and associated evolutionary dynamics, both within and among species, is essential for understanding mechanisms of species adaptation and for predicting future eco-evolutionary dynamics against the backdrop of environmental change. Recent work integrates information from paleontological and phylogenetic data, genomics, experimentation, and modelling to reconstruct ancestral ranges, investigate evolutionary consequences of contemporary distributional shifts, and predict future resilience and spread. These diverse approaches ultimately provide a holistic understanding of the micro- and macroevolutionary causes and consequences of biogeography. In this symposium, we aim to showcase these advances by bringing together researchers who use integrative methods to investigate reciprocal effects of biogeography and evolutionary processes across temporal and spatial scales. We will also use this opportunity to discuss future ideas and perspectives for the field.

Symposium organisers: Kara Layton, Lesley Lancaster, Nicky Lustenhouwer

Invited talks: Sarah Diamond, Leonel Alsina, Michael Singer 

S09. Parallel and repeated evolution in adaptive radiation

The interplay between abiotic and biotic factors in shaping evolution is best understood when species evolve repeatedly under similar selective regimes, providing evolutionary ‘replicates’ to understand the processes of adaptation and diversification. Adaptive radiation, in particular, can often provide a link between lineage diversification, ecology and the phenotype. Recent advances in sequencing technologies have allowed the understanding of the genetic basis underlying some adaptive radiations (e.g. a beak diversification locus in Darwin Finches) and have confirmed the role of hybridization and reshuffling of alleles into novel and favourable combinations that facilitate the repeated exploration of ecological space (e.g. extended evolutionary synthesis). In parallel, progress in ecological analysis, such as the determination of niche-occupation (e.g. hypervolumes) has the potential to clarify the role of ecology in driving repeated evolution and the evolvability of phenotypes. These advances, currently underway, still lack integration. To fill this gap, we propose a symposium focusing on integrating genomics, ecology, and phenotype, and specifically benefiting from repeated evolution in adaptive radiations. We will welcome contributions from diverse study systems, as well as multidisciplinary approaches including various sources of data (genetics, morphology, ecology, physiology).

Symposium organisers: José Cerca, Rosemary Gillespie, Mike Martin

Invited talks: Joana I. Meier, Jae Young Choi, Gabriel Jamie

S10. Eco-evolutionary dynamics in changing environments: insights from models, experiments and case studies

Eco-evolutionary dynamics is fundamental to our understanding of processes that shape species' distributions and their capacity to adapt. Notably, due to the unabating climate change, environmental conditions change at an unprecedented speed and often exhibit higher fluctuations. These can increase the selective pressures on the populations and may drive major shifts in species composition. In this context, an improved understanding of eco-evolutionary processes is not only relevant to grasp the conditions for the maintenance of biodiversity but is also essential to provide informed management policies. Necessarily, experiments and theory develop in tandem: without theory, one does not know what to measure; and without experiments, no theory can be corroborated and assumptions may go seriously astray. The proposed symposium aims to foster the dialogue between theory in evolutionary ecology and assessment of the eco-evolutionary dynamics in both natural and experimental evolution. The focus will be on evolution with spatial and/or temporal variation, where eco-evolutionary processes are especially important. For modelling contributions, it will be required that the theory is formulated in a way which makes it in principle testable in natural or experimental populations. Extension to coevolution and macroecological theory are welcome. 

Symposium organisers: Jitka Polechova, Louise Fouqueau
Invited talks: Jason Sexton, Nick Barton

S11. Adaptation and evolution across environmental gradients

Adaptation to changing environmental conditions is one of the fundamental concepts in evolutionary biology. Selection is expected to favour those organisms whose traits best match conditions in the local environment. However, these conditions are rarely constant across the entire range of a given species, and the resulting environmental gradients can generate geographic phenotypic variation. This symposium aims to highlight our current understanding of mechanisms governing adaptive potential across spatial-temporal environmental gradients. Focal areas for research will cover the effect of gradients driven by both biotic interactions and abiotic conditions as well as whether different species exhibit patterns of convergent evolution to the same environmental challenges. Research approaches will integrate field and behavioural ecology-approaches with quantitative genetics, genomics, and in vitro approaches across both model and non-model systems. This symposium will gather a diverse range of scientists from different backgrounds and career stages. We believe this diversity will inspire attendees to consider and integrate new perspectives into their own research, leading to new collaborations which will create a long-term benefit for the field.

Symposium organisers: Benjamin H. Conlon, Caio Leal-Dutra

Invited talks: Kathrin Rousk, Marjo Saastamoinen 

S12. Resurrection ecology as a tool for the study of rapid evolution

It is now accepted that rapid evolution (within a dozen generations) can occur, contrary to the classical Darwinian view. Rapid evolution is particularly frequent in response to contemporary anthropogenic modification of the environment (e.g. climate change, pollution), although demonstrating its adaptive character remains challenging.

Resurrection ecology (RE) is an inventive approach to study evolution based on the ancestral populations reviving (decades old) from dormant forms (seeds, spores, cysts). Comparing ancestral and current genotypes is a powerful methodology for demonstrating adaptive rapid evolution, although often limited by the fortuitous availability of ancestral material in sediments or seed banks. Being at its beginnings, it is important that good RE practices are established to set up the premises for future studies. This symposium covers various challenges and innovations of RE: 1) practical issues such as constituting or recovering appropriate propagule banks,  their conservation, and the limits of available model organisms in relation to their life history traits, 2) analytical methodology (population and quantitative genetics) disentangling selective from stochastic evolutionary processes, and 3)case studies in various organisms illustrating the power of RE to demonstrate rapid evolution. We thus aim at providing insights into RE possibilities, but also inspiring actions for future RE studies.

Symposium organisers: Bojana Stojanova, Pierre-Olivier Cheptou, Anežka Eliášová

Invited talks: Niek Scheepens, Luc De Meester

S13. Evolutionary ecology of chemically-mediated species interactions in plants

Interactions between plants and other organisms occur in every terrestrial biome and have long been a focal point of the field of evolutionary ecology. These interactions have spurred the spectacular structural and chemical complexity in flowering plants, such as floral volatiles that attract pollinators and leaf metabolites that deter herbivores. While most research to date has considered how these traits structure interactions among species and mediate reproductive isolation, a critical prerequisite is the existence of intraspecific variation in chemical traits. Recent advances in analytical and computational methods have allowed the field to move towards untargeted metabolomics approaches, while facilitating rigorous investigations of long-standing questions. By investigating intraspecific variation across populations, tissue types, or time points, studies have begun to identify how genomic and environmental factors shape the diversification of these traits and connect intraspecific variation to larger scale macroevolutionary studies. The purpose of this symposium is to bring together researchers studying variation in plant mediated interactions from across scales of biological organization from between individuals, populations and species. This symposium will attract researchers across career stages and study systems who are increasing our understanding plant species interactions through studying patterns or drivers of variation in chemical traits.

Symposium organisers: Katherine Eisen, Aino Kalske

Invited talks: Marjorie Weber, James Buckley 

S14. Ecological drivers and evolutionary consequences of within-population colour variation

Colours of wild flowers and animals are the most conspicuous and highly diverse traits in nature. While many plant and animal species are colour-uniform, some species exhibit remarkable within-population colour variation, either in the form of discrete morphs (polymorphic species) or continuous variation. Phenotypic selection is expected to operate on such colour monomorphism, and investigating the mechanisms that counteract the eroding effect of genetic drift that can lead to the loss of morphs can provide a deeper understanding of how diversity is maintained. Most evidence in plants suggests that within-population colour variation is maintained by balancing selection, mediated by multiple selection regimes, often from pollinators. In animals, sexual selection and predation may be a common and widespread mechanisms maintaining colour polymorphisms. Some evidence suggests that frequency-dependent selection can maintain colour polymorphisms, but this mechanism has only been demonstrated in a few systems. Colour variation is also influenced by other evolutionary processes than selection, including genetic drift and mutation and demographic processes, and colour can be genetically correlated with other traits that are targets of selection. However, most of these mechanisms and their balance with selection have not been subject to rigorous empirical tests. In this symposium we aim to address the drivers of within-population colour variation, and the mechanisms that either maintain such variation or erode it. Among-population and among-species variation are well studied and discussed in past ESEB meetings. Colour variation within populations, however, have gotten less attention. We will bring together botanists and zoologist, theoreticians and empiricists, to explore the evolutionary dynamics of such colour polymorphisms. We plan to discuss topics ranging from sexual selection and signalling to aposematism and deception, with the overall aim to understand the eco-evolutionary dynamics of such polymorphisms. Potentially, the symposium will provide a baseline to a unified theory of colour evolution, and will identify new prospective directions for future research that will advance our understanding of polymorphic variation in nature. In addition, we will propose to publish the symposium as a special issue in Journal of Evolutionary Biology.

Symposium organisers: Yuval Sapir, Erik Svensson, Katarzyna Roguz

Invited talks: Karin Kjernsmo, Nathalie Feiner

S15. Rapid evolution of color patterns

Animal and plant color patterns are labile characters that are involved in important biological functions such as reproduction, predator evasion, pollinator attraction, and thermoregulation. A fascinating feature of color variation is that it can evolve rapidly in new environments, as highlighted by dramatic examples in peppered moths, cichlid fishes, and Heliconius butterflies. Beyond these classic cases, technological advances in high-throughput sequencing, phenotyping, and gene editing, have opened new pathways to study rapid evolution using color patterns in a diversity of models. Among other examples, recent studies have highlighted the role of transposable elements in buffalo coat coloration, chromosome re-arrangement in butterfly wing patterns, and trans-generational plasticity in flower coloration in response to predation. This symposium will assemble researchers who use animal and plant color patterns as models to evaluate the diversity of factors driving and constraining rapid phenotypic evolution. We will foster transdisciplinary discussions addressing long-standing questions on the genetic substrate of recurrent adaptation and the mechanistic scale of convergence. Ultimately, we hope to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms underlying rapid adaptation.

Symposium organisers: Sandra Goutte, Yann Bourgeois

Invited talks: Mar Sobral, Patricia Beldade 

S16. Predator cognition and the evolution of prey defence strategies

Animals employ numerous strategies to avoid predation, and the evolution of camouflage, aposematism, mimicry and other forms of antipredator defence is at the core of research interest of evolutionary biologists. As shown by recent studies focused on interactions between prey defences and predator cognitive mechanisms, understanding the selective forces driving the evolution of prey defence strategies requires studying their coevolution with predator perception, cognition, and subsequent behavioural responses. Furthermore, these studies have also highlighted the importance of studying predator cognition in ecologically relevant settings and testing behavioural responses in addition to investigating sensory capabilities. This approach has made it possible to address new questions, such as what factors influence predator decisions to attack potentially dangerous prey, how prey defences and predator cognitive mechanisms interact through the predation sequence, how predators respond to multicomponent and multimodal defences, and how predators use individual and social information about prey. This symposium aims to bring together current experimental, comparative and theoretical approaches to study interactions between predator cognitive mechanisms and prey defence strategies, identify the factors shaping predator behavioural responses, establish critical gaps in our understanding of the evolution of antipredator defences, and outline directions for future research.

Symposium organisers: Alice Exnerova, Bibiana Rojas

Invited talks: Johanna Mappes, Tom Sherratt 

S17. Brain, behaviour and cognitive evolution

As the main component of the nervous system, the brain is the centre of information perception, processing, storage, and decision-making. Scientists have long debated the relationship between brain morphology (brain size, brain region sizes, neuron counts,… etc.) and cognition. Both brain morphology and cognitive abilities vary extensively at all taxonomic levels, among and between species. Comparative studies and recent intraspecific studies suggest that larger brains might possess “better” cognitive abilities. Many questions, however, remain largely unanswered, such as: How does variation in brain size, or structure, translate into quantitative or/and qualitative differences in cognitive abilities? Do brains mostly evolve as all-purpose machines shaping some form of “general cognition”, or do they respond to selection in more modular ways, affecting specific behaviours?  And how does brain developmental plasticity interact with natural selection to produce adaptive behaviour? This symposium aims to bring together experts from different fields with distinct conceptual and technical approaches (e.g. evolutionary biology, anthropology, behavioural ecology, neuroscience) and at different career stages to address these issues in comprehensive and constructive discussions.

Symposium organisers: Zegni Triki, Stephen Montgomery

Invited talks: Natalie Uomini, Carel van Schaik 

S18. The evolution of behavioural adaptations: Genes, neurons and ecology.

The significance of behavioural evolution during population divergence has long been recognised. However, the mechanisms through which behaviours evolve remain poorly understood: What are the genetic changes that underlie behavioural divergence in natural populations, and how are they mediated during development? How do changes in the sensory periphery and the brain contribute to behavioural adaptation? And how are these changes influenced by natural selection imposed by the external environment? Answering these questions will require the integration of ecological, behavioural, and neurosensory data, as well as information about the underlying genomic and developmental bases. Integrative research programs addressing the causes and consequences of behavioural adaptations are only just beginning to emerge. This symposium will bring together researchers studying the evolution of behavioural adaptation from different angles: We will welcome contributions across disciplines including molecular genetics, developmental biology, neurobiology, and behavioural ecology. By doing so we hope to identify common themes shaping the evolution of behaviour, as well as methodological and conceptual challenges and opportunities.

Symposium organisers: Philipp Brand, Mingzi Xu, Richard Merrill

Invited talks: Lauren O'Connell, Thomas Auer 

S19. Eco-evolutionary dynamics and feedbacks in invasive species

Introduced alien species are remarkable in their unusual ability to experience rapid evolutionary and ecological changes on relatively short time scales following their introductions to novel ranges. As a result, biological invasions offer valuable insights into processes that contribute to our understanding of population responses to climate change, ecosystem function, extinction and diversification events, with implications for species management and conservation. While a rich literature exists on the ecology and evolution of invasive species, much less is known about how ecological properties and evolutionary changes influence one another, namely, the so-called “eco-evolutionary dynamics” and “eco-evolutionary feedbacks”. Thus, this symposium aims to discuss the innovative integration of concepts from these two fields into the study of invasion biology. In particular, we welcome studies that focus on topics such as, interactions between genome architecture and environmental change, adaptive traits and their ecological consequences, post-introduction evolution, feedbacks between organisms and resource dynamics, effects of evolution of dispersal on range expansions, and the interplay between theoretical population genetics and ecological demography. In addition, talks could focus on evolutionary diversification, niche displacement or extinction of resident species induced by invaders. We also encourage studies on ecological genomics that could be applied to non-model invasive populations.

Symposium organisers: Ramona Irimia, Isolde van Riemsdijk, Armand Cavé-Radet

Invited talks: Carol Eunmi Lee, Katrina Dlugosch 

S20. Unravelling the interplay between plasticity and evolution during rapid global change

Following the accumulating evidence showing that ongoing rapid global change is forcing many species to cope with new conditions, a pressing question emerges: what mechanisms underlie responses to these novel conditions? Moreover, what are the respective contributions of evolution and plasticity in facilitating species’ persistence? How does the interaction between plasticity and evolution shape responses to novel conditions? Phenotypic plasticity can be a rapid type of response for coping with global change, yet may be insufficient to protect species from extinction. Evolution may play an important role by reinforcing adaptive plastic responses, or opposing maladaptive plastic responses. Indeed, adaptive plasticity can increase relative fitness which can eventually lead to canalization of the plastic response through evolution. It is however not known how developmental mechanisms influence this process, and whether some types of traits are more likely to experience this. Only in recent years the interplay between maladaptive plasticity and evolution has gained more attention, despite the expectation that these responses are under stronger directional selection than adaptive plastic responses. Critical gaps remain on the relative role of the various ways evolution can interact with different types of plasticity, and how these influence the rate of response to global change.

Symposium organisers: Janne Swaegers, Nedim Tüzün

Invited talks: Anne Charmantier, Ryan Martin 

S21. Epigenetics goes wild! Epigenetic diversity and the evolutionary potential of wild populations

Estimating the evolutionary potential of species, that is their evolved capacity to respond to environmental changes, is a major challenge that needs to be overcome to understand the past adaptations and to inform future conservation efforts. While this issue is often addressed on the DNA sequence level, this symposium proposes to open the discussion on the implications of epigenetic diversity and inheritance for the evolutionary potential. The past decade has seen an accumulation of knowledge on methods to screen and validate epigenetic modifications, and to assess their potential heritability. These methods are currently unveiling the evolutionary implications of epigenetic modifications and inheritance on phenotypic plasticity and adaptation. Thus, the objective of this symposium is to act as a beacon that aggregates empirical examples and novel theories, while overall connecting researchers with common interests in the growing field of evolutionary and ecological epigenetics. Specifically, we are expecting contributions in the context of adaptation and acclimatization to novel environments (e.g. invasive species, climate change), the relevance of epigenetic diversity for population resilience and their evolutionary potential, and the suitability of epigenetic modifications as biomarkers for environmental stress and age with potential application in the field of conservation epigenetics.

Symposium organisers: Melanie Heckwolf, Miguel Baltazar-Soares, Alice Balard

Invited talks: Sofia Consuegra, Olivier Rey 

S22. Phenotypic plasticity’s importance in evolution: Same old dog or new tricks?

The role of phenotypic plasticity in evolution has been debated for over a century, but there is still no consensus about its general effects on processes such as adaptation and speciation, or more importantly, whether plasticity’s causal impact on the evolutionary process is comparable to factors such as direct environmental change, ecology, selection, genetic mutation, etc. Arguments for a strong role in evolution have been given renewed attention recently, and form an important basis for calls to “extend” basic evolutionary theory. However, these ideas have attracted considerable criticism. Is the substantial research attention paid to the role of plasticity in evolution warranted by its actual importance? We will address this question by undertaking a critical synthesis based on recent theoretical advances and empirical findings. With this symposium we will bring together scientists studying evolutionary causes and consequences of phenotypic plasticity from a wide variety of research traditions, with emphasis on narrowing the data-theory gap. The symposium and a potential associated target review in Journal of Evolutionary Biology are intended to re-focus this subfield of evolutionary biology, and identify research priorities for the future that capitalize on advances in genetics, behaviour and theoretical modelling.

Symposium organisers: Camille Desjonquères, Nathan W. Bailey

Invited Talks: Amanda Bretman, Luis-Miguel Chevin 

S23. The evolution and consequences of non-mendelian inheritance

Mendelian inheritance is the standard inheritance model in evolutionary biology, even though there is growing evidence of frequent violations of it in nature. These distortions of segregation play out on various levels, fueled by genomic conflicts. For example selfish genes and chromosomes can boost their transmission probability via meiotic drive, or whole paternal haplotypes can be eliminated in paternal genome elimination. Even more familiar systems such as asexuality or Y chromosome inheritance are in fact extreme cases of segregation distortion; in other words, non-mendelian inheritance effects to certain extent probably all genetics systems in nature. In spite of this ubiquity, the evolutionary and genomic consequences are poorly understood and mostly focused on individual cases. In this symposium, we welcome research studying non-Mendelian inheritance from proximate molecular mechanisms to long-term selective effects for the species which exhibit these systems, with the aim of increasing knowledge exchange across sub-disciplines in the field.

Symposium organisers: Laura Ross, Kamil Jaron, Andrew Mongue

Invited talks: Elena Dalla Benetta, Steve Perlman 

S24. Progress and prospects in adaptation genomics

The overarching aim of our symposium is to bring together evolutionary biologists interested in using genomics to understand adaptive processes and evolutionary history and to discuss recent progress and future prospects in this field. Population genetics deals with three fundamental questions: (1) How much genetic variation exists in populations? (2) How is this variation maintained? (3) What is the genetic basis of evolutionary change? While population genomics has answered the first question, the second and third remain incompletely understood. We plan an exciting diversity of talks on cutting-edge topics in adaptation genomics, including on the importance of temporally and spatially varying selection in maintaining variation; on the importance of history, hybridization and introgression in patterning such variation; on appropriate null models of evolutionary change that incorporate demography; on selective sweeps versus polygenic adaptation; and on identifying and validating targets of selection. We encourage contributions from both empirical and statistical / theoretical population geneticists, especially from early career researchers. Apart from fostering in-depth discussion, a tangible outcome of this symposium will be a targeted review submitted to JEB. This symposium is organized on behalf of DrosEU, a consortium funded by a ESEB STN grant.

Symposium organisers: Thomas Flatt, Josefa González, Alan Bergland

Invited talks: Nicola Nadeau, Konrad Lohse 

S25. The positives and negatives of whole genome duplication: synthesizing polyploid evolution across organisms and disciplines

Whole genome duplication (WGD) is a massive mutation with far-reaching effects on phenotype and genome. In spite of multifarious challenges posed by WGD, the world-wide ubiquity of polyploids suggests that WGD can bring evolutionary advantages in certain contexts. Theoretically, polyploidy can act as a powerful and advantageous evolutionary driver, with additional gene sets evolving novel functions and more complex gene networks. However, most polyploidization events are deleterious, causing sterility, gigantism, and gene dosage problems. Study of polyploidy also has applied relevance. Plant polyploidy has been widely exploited for breeding whereas cellular endopolyploidy has been linked to both cancer and increased metabolic ability and susceptibility to genetic disease in humans and animals. This discrepancy resulted in a long-standing controversy: does WGD represent an evolutionary 'dead end'? Here we aim to address this controversy from a novel angle, by focusing on successful polyploid lineages (contrasted by their WGD-lacking relatives) among plants, animals and protists to decipher the mechanisms of adaptation, as well as manifestation of their adaptive significance in particular spatio-environmental context. This symposium will balance theoretical enquiry with empirical case studies of (un)successful polyploid lineages, including surveys of natural diversity as well as experiments with synthetic polyploids. We will target contributions from population genomics, ecology and quantitative genetics, as well as functional mechanistic study, aiming for synthesis among these often isolated fields in order to uncover potential drivers of evolutionary success of some, but not all, polyploid lineages.

Symposium organisers: Kelley Leung, Levi Yant, Alison Scott

Invited talks: Mike Barker, Barbara K. Mable, Hevre Isambert, Magdalena Bohutínská 

S26. The biological meaning of SNPs

Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have become the gold standard for measuring variation in population genomics, as they provide unprecedented resolution. Yet, determining how many SNPs should be expected within an individual, clonal replicates of the same genet, inbred or outcrossed individuals remains challenging. With classic molecular markers, two samples that differed by even one polymorphism were generally assumed to be two different “individuals”. This line of reasoning is obscured with sequencing because of errors inherent with this technology. In addition, in many organisms like plants, corals, sponges, or fungi, characterized by their modularity and coexistence with symbionts, the genetic demarcation of individuals can be blurred both in space and time. The size and complexity of some genomes, e.g. polyploid plants with large genomes, or corals containing separate genomes of organisms living in endosymbiosis, make this task even more arduous. Using sequencing technologies in combination with mathematical models, and biological theory, the potential of research into these diverse taxa is unlocked. In this symposium, we aim to gather researchers combining these approaches in non-model organisms to develop an understanding of how to interpret SNPs between biological samples throughout the tree of life.

Symposium organisers: Isolde van Riemsdijk, M. Teresa Boquete

Invited talks: Elora Hayter López-Nandam, Anne Yoder 

S27. Tandem repeats: their role in molecular evolution and methods

Tandem repeats (TRs) are adjacent repetitive stretches of genomic DNA, found in abundance across all kingdoms of life. TRs provide a rich source of variation in populations, hence a perfect playground for natural selection forces. Especially, shorter TRs are known for their orders of magnitude high mutation rates compared to SNPs and indels.TR-suitable methods and resources are emerging one after the other allowing accurate TR annotation and genotyping integrated into existing genomic pipeline workflows. Analysis of TR variation in populations and over longer evolutionary time suggest STRs as a major contributor to complex traits heritability with a major impact on protein function and expression. 

This symposium will focus on the typing approaches, evolution, and functional analysis of these highly polymorphic elements. We aim to bring together both researchers who develop and apply methods for accurate STR genotyping, and identification of STRs relevant for phenotypic evolution, and recent adaptations. This way, the symposium will facilitate interactions between researchers from different backgrounds and promote the interdisciplinary study of the STRs, an emerging major source of phenotypic variation. Therefore, we expect this symposium to be of interest to a broad range of researchers in the fields of bioinformatics, population genomics, and evolutionary biology.

Symposium organisers: Tugce Bilgin Sonay, Maria Anisimova

Invited talks: Melissa Gymrek, Miguel Andrade 

S28. Beyond transcription: the role of post-transcriptional gene regulation in adaptation and evolution

Gene expression regulation plays a central role in adaptive divergence and evolution, yet our understanding of adaptive post-transcriptional divergence is in its infancy. Recent studies have demonstrated the potentially important role of variation in alternative transcript splicing and other post-transcriptional processes in adaptation and evolution in several systems. For example, multiple studies have shown the important role of splicing differences in encoding for discrete adaptive phenotypes; many others have demonstrated independent evolution in splicing and transcript abundance, providing alternative paths for selection to act upon. However, compared to transcription levels, many questions remain e.g., regarding the role of variation in transcript splicing under different eco-evolutionary contexts, the rate of splicing versus expression evolution, or the mechanisms through which splicing alters phenotypes. We argue that now is the time for a symposium on the role of post-transcriptional processes in adaptation and evolution to set the path for future research. The aim of this symposium is to synthesise our current level of understanding on the role of post-transcriptional variation in different eco-evolutionary contexts and diverse taxa, and highlight the role of novel analytical and technological approaches, such as long-read sequencing, in driving our understanding of post-transcriptional processing across the tree of life.

Symposium organisers: Jukka-Pekka Verta, Arne Jacobs

Invited talks: Alison Wright, Manuel Irmia 

S29. Comparative genomics: a powerful tool for exploring broad evolutionary questions

Combining genome bioinformatics with methods from comparative analyses, comparative genomics is a powerful tool to explore broad evolutionary questions at the genetic level. For example, comparative genomics has offered insights into local adaptation and speciation, pathogenicity and disease susceptibility, and the genetics underpinning social behaviour. Furthermore, comparative genomics has played a considerable role in our understanding of the microbial world, from exploring the transfer of bacterial genes within and between species, to tracking the spread of COVID-19 across the globe. As the availability of genome sequences continues to increase rapidly, comparative genomics is likely to offer new and exciting insights into evolution that would have been impossible 20 years ago. However, larger quantities of data come with increasing challenges in distinguishing artefacts from real biological effects. Additionally, sequencing biases mean that genomic databases are rarely representative of organisms in nature. This symposium will bring together researchers using comparative genomics to study evolution across a diverse range of organisms. Its goal is to highlight how comparative genomics is being used to gain exciting insights into evolution, facilitate discussion of its current limitations, and consider what future studies may be possible as more and more genomic data becomes available.

Symposium organisers: Anna Dewar, Laurence Belcher, Chunhui Hao

Invited talks: Eduardo Rocha, Koos Boomsma

S30. Characterizing genomic landscapes of recombination and their evolution

Recombination is central to genetics and evolution. By breaking linkage and shuffling alleles, recombination generates the diversity of haplotypes that natural selection acts upon, in turn also shaping the patterns of genetic diversity at linked neutral sites. Recombination rates can vary substantially both between species and within their genomes. Therefore, mapping the distribution of recombination rates along chromosomes is often a key prerequisite to powerful and unbiased evolutionary genetic inferences: e.g., of selection, introgression, or demographic history. Fine scale mapping of recombination used to be possible only in a limited number of species, but this is now changing. Population recombination maps based on linkage disequilibrium are constructed across the tree of life as genome-wide polymorphism datasets are becoming commonplace. Substantial progress has also been made in direct estimation of recombination rates using gamete typing. The new recombination maps obtained using these approaches are opening promising avenues for testing evolutionary hypotheses and for understanding the evolution of recombination rates at different scales. However, numerous challenges remain.

 In this symposium, we plan to stimulate discussion among the broad spectrum of researchers interested in the reconstruction of genomic landscapes of recombination, their comparison among taxa, and/or their use in downstream evolutionary inferences.

Symposium organisers: Milan Malinsky, Pierre-Alexandre Gagnaire

Invited talks: Simon Myers, Simon Martin 

S31. Limits to adaptation: linking evolution, ecology, and genetics

Adaptation to environmental change has been studied for decades, yet adaptation and maladaptation in nature are still only partially understood. One probable reason for this is that the factors limiting adaptation – demography, genetic constraints, ecological instability, etc. – are mainly studied in isolation. In real adaptive processes, however, these evolutionary constraints occur and interact simultaneously. Focusing on evolution, ecology, and genetics independently can therefore give a biased view of the adaptive process. This symposium aims to improve our understanding of adaptation to environmental change by synthesizing and linking recent studies on multiple evolutionary constraints. We welcome empirical and theoretical studies:

- that examine single constraints on adaptation;

- that test or discover the effects of interactions between constraints.

Limits to adaptation are a crucial aspect of evolutionary responses to any natural or anthropogenic change. Because research is currently scattered across disciplines, we hope that this symposium will be an opportunity to unite researchers studying e.g. ecological specialization, evolutionary rescue, and eco-evolutionary dynamics. We will synthesize our understanding of interacting evolutionary constraints and stimulate new integrative research.

Symposium organisers: Laure Olazcuaga, Eva J.P. Lievens

Invited talks: Patrik Nosil, Hildegard Uecker 

S32. Inferring macroevolutionary patterns from microevolutionary processes: methods and practices

Recent advancements in phylogenetics, phylogenetic comparative methods, and high-throughput phenotyping platforms provide unprecedented opportunities for studying phenotypic evolution at macroevolutionary time scales. Such abundant data and statistical tools enable us to address one of the most enduring questions in evolutionary biology: whether and how evolutionary processes observed at population levels scale up to the diversity observed at higher taxonomic levels. However, macroevolutionary models, such as Brownian motion or Ornstein-Uhlenbeck models, are phenomenological and therefore vaguely related to microevolutionary processes and theory. More recently, methods for analyzing phylogenetic comparative data have started to incorporate more realistic models that are directly linked to theories of population ecology or quantitative genetics. Yet, their development are still in their infancy and their applications to empirical data are likewise rare. This symposium will bring together researchers who develop macroevolutionary models based on microevolutionary processes with those who wish to apply these methods to address empirical questions. We aim to thrust the field forward by showcasing state-of-the-art approaches that make macroevolutionary inferences from microevolutionary processes to stimulate the use of these powerful approaches for wider fields of evolutionary biology.

Symposium organisers: Masahito Tsuboi, Lee Hsiang Liow, Martha Monica Muñoz

Invited talks: Thomas F. Hansen, Martha Monica Muñoz 

S33. Domestication: Fresh insights from ancient genomics 

Animal and plant domestication events have fundamentally changed human societies in multitude ways, while biologically shaping the domesticated species themselves. The tempo and mode of domestication processes, the subsequent dynamics of transport, breeding and introgression between domesticates and wild relatives, the genetic bases of selected traits, as well as the social and biological impacts of animal husbandry and farming on humans have long been investigated, using either archeological evidence or inferences from biological studies of extant species. The advent of ancient genomics, however, has been a game changer. The last years have seen a wide range of spectacular work that rewrote domestication histories of different species, from dogs to chicken. This session aims to bring together the most recent and exciting work on animal and plant domestication, covering both the reconstruction of demographic history, analyses of selective sweeps, evidence for relaxation of constraints, as well as studies on ancient pathogens.

Symposium organisers: Mehmet Somel, Anders Göthrström, Eva-Maria Geigl

Invited talks: Laurent Franz, Catarina Ginja 

S34. How have biomarkers improved our understanding of health and the evolution of senescence?

As individuals reach older ages their bodies deteriorate - a process known as senescence. Individuals within the same species can differ greatly in the age they start to senesce, and the rate at which they senesce. However, why individuals senesce so differently remains unresolved and this is one of the biggest unanswered questions in evolutionary biology. Understanding the drivers of senescence has important ramifications for veterinary medicine, conservation, health and society, as it could help individuals to live longer, healthier lives. This symposium will seek to address this knowledge gap by bringing together researchers with expertise in senescence from theoretical, laboratory and field settings. In particular it will focus on how our understanding of health and the evolution of senescence has been altered with the development of indicators and biomarkers of senescence such as epigenetic clocks and telomeres. Biomarkers have shed light on the relative impact of social, environmental, genetic and trans-generational effects on senescence. A better understanding of advances in the evolutionary theory of senescence, the occurrence and life-history consequences of senescence, and the underlying genetic and non-genetic mechanisms will significantly further the field. This knowledge is vital to understanding why senescence has evolved and how it is maintained.

Symposium organisers: Hannah Dugdale, Julia Schroeder, Janet Chik, Tom Brown

Invited talks: Britt Heidinger, Julien Martin

S35. The art of microscopic war: interference competition in microbes

Microbes living in dense and diverse communities are engaged in near constant competition with each other. Unlike animals, where costly fights are often avoided, microbes frequently employ molecular weaponry to inhibit or kill competitors, and recent decades have seen an explosion of research into the mechanistic underpinnings of microbial interference competition. Microbes have also evolved sophisticated strategies for deploying their weapons, which determine their success in important communities such as soils and animal microbiomes. However, what drove the evolution of microbial weaponry, and how it in turn affects microbial evolution, is still an open question for many biological systems.

This symposium will showcase recent insights into how microbes use their weapon systems, how these systems evolved, and how interference competition affects microbial evolution. We will bring together researchers studying interference competition and its effects on simple and complex microbial communities, and invite contributions on all aspects of the evolution and ecology of microbial weaponry including in silico, in vitro, and in vivo work. This symposium will highlight exciting findings on the evolution of microbial weaponry, and will provide a unique opportunity for researchers in the field to connect with each other and the rest of the evolutionary biology community.

Symposium organisers: Elisa Granato, Jacob Palmer, William P.J. Smith

Invited talks: Laurie Comstock, Daniel Rozen 

S36. Evolution of antibiotic resistance: from lab to clinic

Laboratory evolution experiments are a powerful tool for addressing fundamental evolutionary questions under controlled conditions. They are also increasingly used to address applied problems, such as the evolution and spread of antibiotic resistance. These studies have revealed important novel insights about the mechanisms and evolvability of antibiotic resistance and their dependence on bacterial stress-responses, metabolism and drug combinations, which may inform new therapies. However, results from laboratory evolution experiments under artificial conditions are often not directly relevant for the clinical problem of antibiotic resistance, due to differences between laboratory and clinical strains and conditions. Researchers have therefore begun to study the evolution of antibiotic resistance in animals and patients. In this symposium, we bring together researchers working on both sides of the ‘laboratory-clinic divide’, as well as those that start to bridge the gap. Our specific aim is to identify pertinent questions and caveats in the translation between lab experiments and the clinical problem of antibiotic resistance. How can laboratory experiments under artificial conditions complement analyses in animals and patients and inform new drug therapies? A more general aim of our symposium is to discuss the relevance of evolutionary biology for our health and wellbeing.

Symposium organisers: Arjan de Visser, Jan Michiels, Dan Andersson

Invited talks: Álvaro San Millán, Robert A. Bonomo 

S37. Microbiomes in the wild: the drivers and evolutionary consequences of microbiome variation

All animals harbour microbes, and these diverse and complex communities (the microbiome) have profound and pervasive effects on host biology. Host-microbiome interactions can affect host fitness, through obligatory relationships that govern co-evolution, or through facultative relationships that shape host responses to local environmental conditions. Thus, there is huge potential for host-microbiome interactions to modulate host phenotypes and adaptive responses. Much of our existing knowledge on the importance of the microbiome comes from laboratory systems. However, the microbiota of laboratory animals often differs radically in composition and function from their wild counterparts; this curtails our ability to translate any observed effects or mechanisms to natural populations. Studies of naturally-acquired microbiomes in the wild, where hosts are exposed to complex environmental variation and where selection acts to determine fitness, are therefore essential to understand the evolutionary significance of the microbiome. Our proposed symposium will bring together researchers working in this rapidly emerging field. Our speakers will showcase recent work giving insight into the drivers and evolutionary consequences of microbiome variation across a diverse range of wild animal systems. The symposium will also serve as a timely opportunity to highlight and discuss novel approaches for collating and analysing complex microbiome datasets.

Symposium organisers: Sarah Worsley, Amy Sweeny, Johannes Björk

Invited talks: Xavier Harrison, Lucía Pita 

S38. Molecular evolution and trade-offs in host-pathogen interactions and host immunity

Host-pathogen interactions are considered one of the major drivers for evolutionary change and maintenance of genetic diversity. Host immune systems constantly adapt to the rapidly evolving pathogens, utilising receptor variability and diverse and redundant effector mechanisms to recognise and fight the wide range of infecting agents. Thus, understanding the genotype-phenotype interactions ensuring resistance is challenging. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the evolutionary trajectories of these immune systems are not only shaped by parasites, but also constrained by various immunological and metabolic trade-offs or the need to differentiate self from non-self in order to prevent autoimmunity. Different life-history strategies of the host and fluctuating environmental conditions, including changes in parasite communities, might require different degrees of immune plasticity and immune investment strategies. This symposium aims to bring together theoretical concepts and empirical examples highlighting these factors that shape the evolution of an optimal immune response, considering immunogenetic, cellular, metabolic, and ecological perspectives. We also welcome examples of host-parasite interactions and research in disease ecology influencing the evolutionary trajectory of host immunity. Our aim is to attract a wide range of presentations that will allow discussion of the main current challenges in the evolutionary research of host immunity.

Symposium organisers: Ana Teles, Helena Westerdahl, Michal Vinkler, Robert Peuß, Tobias Lenz

Invited talks: Andrea Graham, Sophie Armitage, Dana M. Hawley, Lars Råberg 

S39.  Mechanisms of host-symbiont coevolution: from genotype to phenotype

Host-symbiont relationships have shaped evolutionary history and play crucial roles in ecosystems, accounting for up to 75% of all ecological interactions. These interactions are highly dynamic and can be shaped by coevolutionary processes and environmental factors.

In recent years, there have been considerable research efforts to better understand the coevolutionary processes that influence host-symbiont interactions, including genotype-genotype interactions, the role of phenotypic switching, and the dynamics of codiversification. These advances have been facilitated by applying a range of interdisciplinary methodological approaches: from the analysis of genomes, transcriptomes, and epigenomes, to large-scale ecological and evolutionary studies.

Our symposium aims to provide a platform for interdisciplinary discussions and to highlight cutting-edge research that will contribute to the systemic understanding of host-symbiont coevolution. This topic is particularly relevant given the current global-scale environmental changes, which are causing shifts in host-symbiont interactions that have disruptive consequences for ecosystems.

Symposium organisers: Megan Sørensen, Dragan Stajic, Leanid Laganenka, Andrew Sweet, Jorge Doña

Invited talks: Hassan Salem, Dieter Ebert, Jan Štefka


The open symposium is the place for any participant who wants to present a study on a topic that ‘does not have a home’ amongst the 39 themed symposia. Traditionally, the open symposium has received a large number of abstracts and thus should not be considered an easier option for being selected for an oral presentation. Submitters are encouraged to prioritise the themed symposia as abstracts submitted to symposium 40 that clearly fit into one of the themed symposia will not be considered for an oral presentation in this symposium, but will instead be automatically considered only for a poster presentation.

In order to improve attendance at the open symposium sessions, abstracts submitted to symposium 40 will be separated into 3-6 general evolutionary biology sub-themes. These sub-themes will be determined once abstract submissions have closed, based on the topics of the submitted abstracts. They will then be evaluated by researchers with expertise in the (very) general sub-themes and presentations will be grouped into these sub-themes at the conference, and advertised as such.

Organised by the Scientific Committee of the congress