What are your research topics?
My main research topic is about how species adapt and persist in changing environments. It is a particularly important topic in the context of climate change where species with a low adaptive capacity may go extinct. In my lab, we investigate the genetic basis of rapid adaptation to new environments and try to understand how evolutionary and ecological processes affect species’ persistence.
I am an evolutionary biologist with a background in theoretical modelling. I develop and use computational simulations and analytical approaches to model the eco-evolutionary responses of natural species to climate change. I also tackle evolutionary questions with experimental evolution in the lab with a small insect species, the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum.
Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?
The decrease of biodiversity on our planet affects us all. Understanding the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms at play is thus fundamental to inspire and inform conservation action. I hope that our findings and our modelling tools will find their way into conservation practices and have an impact on policymakers and our society as a whole.
What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?
I am fascinated by how life has evolved and diversified on our planet, and saddened to see how much impact we as a single species among so many have such a negative impact on the whole. In times like these, it is our role as scientists to convey our findings to the public and as educators to raise the next generation of researchers.
It is now very inspiring to see how the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology come together to try and address the current biodiversity crisis. Both fields have been and still are to some extent separated, each addressing questions seemingly on different timescales, with ecology on the short end and evolution on the long. But we now know that adaptive evolution can happen very quickly over tens of generations. It is therefore timely to ask whether evolution can rescue species from extinction under rapid climate changes.
Frédéric Guillaume is the professor of eco-evolutionary dynamics in the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences.