Troy Simon

Ph.D. Ecology, 2015

Short Bio:

My research investigates the importance of local adaptation in mediating ecosystem structure and function in the wild. This work was conducted as part of the larger Frontiers in Integrative Biological Research (FIBR) program. The goal of FIBR is to understand significance of eco-evolutionary dynamics in the Trinidadian guppy system. Trinidadian guppies have been a model system to studying natural selection in the wild. Previous research has shown guppy the evolution of guppy life history to occur in four years, equivalent to just eight guppy generations. Our short-term goal is to understand the ecosystem consequences of this local adaptation, while our long-term goal is to document the mechanisms by which ecological and evolutionary processes interact in contemporary time.

Our previous research in mesocosms has shown that locally adapted guppies differentially alter ecosystem-level properties and processes, particularly the availability and productivity of primary and secondary producers; however, the significance of local guppy adaption on the ecosystem in the context of increased ecological complexity and environmental variability remains unknown. My research aims to fill this gap in our knowledge by examining how trait variation in Trinidadian guppies affects stream ecosystems in unmanaged natural systems. Additionally, I am using mathematical modeling in order to examine the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms that most likely drive eco-evolutionary interactions in this system. By combining both empirical and theoretical information I hope to elucidate the importance of eco-evolutionary dynamics in this model system.

Honors & Awards:

  • 2013 Odum School of Ecology Small Grant
  • 2013 British Ecological Society Parkyn-Legacy Travel Grant
  • 2012 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
  • 2012 Best Oral Presentation, Odum School of Ecology Graduate Student Symposium
  • 2011 Odum School of Ecology Small Grant