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Jill Anderson

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Associate Professor
Ph.D. (2009) Cornell University
  • Grant Support -
    • National Science Foundation, CAREER award
  • Research Interests -
    • Anthropogenic climate change has already influenced the ecological dynamics of species, through elevational and latitudinal shifts in geographic ranges, altered phenology, and disrupted species interactions. Owing to the rapid pace of climate change, species might not have the dispersal abilities needed to track preferred climates, nor the traits necessary to survive in novel conditions. Climate change will likely impose considerable selection for stress tolerance. Nevertheless, the evolutionary consequences of contemporary climate change remain essentially unresolved.

      We are investigating constraints on adaptation in the context of global change using a species of mustard (Boechera stricta) native to the U.S. Rocky Mountains. We conduct large-scale field and growth chamber/greenhouse experiments to examine how climate influences patterns of trait expression, natural selection, and local adaptation. We test whether phenotypic plasticity could enable population persistence in the short term and whether fluctuating conditions associated with climate change actually favor plasticity. Our studies also evaluate whether local populations maintain sufficient genetic variation to respond to novel selection. Finally, we are using ecogenomic techniques to examine patterns of gene expression under varying climatic regimes, and ultimately to dissect the genetic basis of local adaptation to climate.

      Our lab also investigates seed dispersal by frugivorous fish in tropical South America. Seed dispersal is a critical stage in the life history of plants. It determines the initial pattern of juvenile distribution, and influences community dynamics, species diversity and gene flow among populations. One major group of vertebrates has been largely overlooked in studies of seed dispersal: fruit-eating fishes. During the lengthy annual flooded season, hundreds of species of frugivorous fish move into South American floodplain forests and consume fallen fruits and seeds.

      Large fruit-eating fish species are highly overexploited throughout their ranges. Overfishing has likely biased the age structure of populations to younger fish, with unknown implications for plant community dynamics and the maintenance of diversity in Amazonian floodplains. We are interested in the ecological and evolutionary consequences of overexploitation of fruit-eating fish in the Brazilian Pantanal and the Colombian Amazon. Our current studies integrates data on fish behavior, plant ecology and fisheries to test whether commerical fisheries target the best seed dispersers (generally larger, older fish).

Research Areas:
Selected Publications:
  • For full publication list, please see:
  • For Google Scholar page, please see:
  • Wadgymar, S., S.C. Daws and J.T. Anderson, 2017. Integrating temporal viability and fecundity selection to illuminate the adaptive nature of genetic clines. Evolution Letters. 1: 26-39.
  • Wadgymar, S., D. Lowry, C. Byron, B. Gould, R. Mactavish, and J.T. Anderson, in press. Identifying targets and agents of selection: Innovative methods to evaluate the environmental and genetic factors that contribute to local adaptation. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12777
  • Correa, S., J. K. Arujo, J. Penha, C Nunes da Cunha, K. E. Bobier, J.T. Anderson, 2016. Stability and generalization in seed dispersal networks: A case study of frugivorous fish in Neotropical wetlands. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.1267
  • Anderson, J.T., 2016. Plant fitness in a rapidly changing world. New Phytologist. 210: 81-87.
  • Anderson, J.T. and Z. Gezon, 2015. Plasticity in functional traits in the context ofclimate change: A case study of the subalpine forb Boechera stricta (Brassicaceae). Global Change Biology. 21(4): 1689-1703
  • Anderson, J.T., N. Perera, B. Chowdhury T, T. Mitchell-Olds, 2015. Microgeographic patterns of genetic divergence and adaptation across environmental gradients in Boechera stricta (Brassicaceae). The American Naturalist. 186 (S1): S60-S73.
  • Correa, S., R. Costa-Pereira, T. Fleming, M. Goulding, J.T. Anderson, 2015. Neotropical fruit-fish interactions: eco-evolutionary dynamics and conservation. Biological Reviews. 90: 1263-1278.
  • Correa, S., J. Araujo, J. Penha, C. Nunes Da Cunha, P. Stevenson, J.T. Anderson, 2015. Overfishing disrupts an ancient mutualism between frugivorous fish and plants in Neotropical wetlands. Biological Conservation. 191: 159-167
Articles Featuring Jill Anderson

Dr. Jill Anderson of UGA Genetics has received the Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the university’s highest early career teaching honor for outstanding and innovative instruction.

new study from the University of Georgia sheds light on how plants respond to stressful environmental conditions presented by climate change.

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