Applying developmental threshold models to evolutionary ecology

Kathleen Donohue, Liana T. Burghardt, Daniel Runcie, Kent J. Bradford, Johanna Schmitt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Process-based models of development predict developmental rates and phenology as a function of physiological responses to multiple dynamic environmental factors. These models can be adapted to analyze diverse processes in evolutionary ecology. By linking models across life stages, they can predict life cycles and generation times. By incorporating fitness, they can identify environmental and physiological factors that limit species distributions. By incorporating population variance, they can investigate mechanisms of intraspecific variation or synchronization. By incorporating genetics, they can predict genotype-specific phenology under diverse climatic scenarios and examine causes and consequences of pleiotropy across life stages. With further development, they have the potential to predict genotype-specific ranges and identify key genes involved in determining phenology and fitness in variable and changing environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-77
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Stephen Welch, Jessica Metcalf, Isabelle Chuine, Amity Wilczek, and Susan Meyer for many interesting discussions on modeling phenology. This paper was supported by a working group sponsored by the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, National Science Foundation EF-0905606. The work was also supported by a fellowship to KD from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Environmental change
  • Life cycle
  • Phenology
  • Population-based models
  • Process-based models
  • Range limits
  • Reaction norm


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