My name is Sergio Nigenda, I am a Ph.D. student in Dr. Robert Wayne’s Lab in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Natural environments present several biotic and abiotic challenges that require both short-term and long-term evolutionary responses. Changes in the environment can favor the expansion of the distribution range of species, allowing them to colonize new habitats, which can have long term evolutionary consequences. These evolutionary consequences can be more noticeable in species with wide geographic ranges having populations inhabiting different environments, which could be potentially under different selective pressures. Some of the evolutionary effects could be that populations show differences in morphological phenotypes and differences in allele frequencies, providing advantageous traits in distinct habitats . Therefore, correlating environmental factors with genetic variation is important in understanding how the interaction between the environment and evolutionary processes shape population phenotypic and genetic variation.
In general, I am interested in understanding the demographic and evolutionary history of different vertebrate species. I aim to achieve this goal reconstructing the historical demography of populations and identifying the changes in the genome that have lead to phenotypic variation and allowed populations to adapt to their environments.
“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” – Charles Darwin