This module will emphasize the evolutionary perspective, how different inference can be made at different scales and on translating general concepts into specific hypotheses and experimental manipulations.


Activity and Goals

Reading and homework

Tuesday 11 October

Topic: Ecological and Evolutionary consequences of global change

  • Discussion of Parmesan and Yohe (2003)
  • Discussion prompts: What is global change? What are the major ways in which natural populations and communities are responding to global change? How can we distinguish between ecological and evolutionary responses?

Readings for TODAY: Parmesan and Yohe 2003

Readings for next time: CaraDonna et al. (2014) and this website:

Please bring a computer to class for next session. If you cannot do so, please speak with Jill in advance.

Thursday13 October

In class activity: Phenological responses to climate change

  • We will be analyzing data from long-term records at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory on patterns of flowering phenology, migratory phenology, and the phenology of emergence from hibernation.


          The Best Data.csv


HW1 (1 page maximum): Outline 2-3 mechanisms that could explain shifting phenologies in response to climate change.

Email this to Jill ( before class

Reading: Gilman et al. (2010)

Tuesday 18 October

Topic: Migration.

  • Discussion of HW1
  • Discussion prompts: Geological records show clear evidence that species migrated in response to previous bouts of climate change. What factors could impede migration in contemporary landscapes?

HW2 (1 page maximum): Develop mutually exclusive hypotheses and clear predictions based on HW1. Email to Jill before class.

Readings for next time: Etterson & Shaw (2001), Franks et al. (2016)

Thursday 20 October

Topic: Adaptation.

  • Discussion: Constraints on adaptation (Etterson and Shaw 2001) vs. adaptive responses to novel environments (Franks et al. 2016)
  • Discussion prompts: Under which conditions might we expect adaptation to novel conditions?

Due Next Time

HW3 (2 page maximum): Design a study (experimental or observational) to test among your hypotheses. What data would you need to collect to test your predictions? Email to Jill before class and bring to class

Please read: Sinervo et al. (2010), and Cahill et al. (2013)

Tuesday 25 October

Topic: Extinction

  • Discussion prompts:
    • Which species or populations may be most vulnerable to climate change? Could human actions (e.g., assisted migration) mitigate extinction risks?
  • In class discussion of homework 3

HW4: Prepare short (5-10 minute) presentation of experiment designed to test alternative hypotheses underlying phenological responses to climate change.

Thursday 27 October

In class presentations of experimental design