AN ADDITIONAL CIE SEMINAR ANNOUNCEMENT: CIE Seminar Series 2014 – The adaptive value of melanin-based color: a role for pleiotropy

Alexandre RoulinSPEAKER: Assoc Professor Alexandre Roulin, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
DATE: Thursday, 6th November 2014
LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka4.207
TIME: 4:00 pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Burwood, Room LT11 (B1.20) and Warrnambool Campus, Room C1.13

ABSTRACT: Establishing the links between phenotype and genotype is of great importance for resolving key questions about the evolution, maintenance and adaptive function of phenotypic variation. Variation in melanin-based coloration is an appropriate model system in this context.

Evidence are accumulating that melanin-based coloration is associated with many other phenotypic traits. For examples, dark melanic individuals often invest differentially in immune defences, the regulation of glucocorticoids or energetic processes, associations that are found in organisms as diverse as fish, birds, reptiles or mammals.

A recent genetic model suggested that pleiotropy in the melanocortin system could account for covariations between pigmentation, behaviour, morphology, physiology and life history traits.

I will present the current state of research spanning from molecular evolution to the analysis at the phenotypic and genetic level including polymorphism and gene expression levels.

The study of melanin-based is a good model to study the evolutionary and ecological consequences of pleiotropy. Pleiotropy may indeed account for the covariation between phenotypic traits involved in social interactions (here pigmentation) and life history, morphology, behaviour and physiology.


  • University of Bern (1993); Master (1997); PhD (1999)
  • 3-years postdoc at Cambridge University, UK
  • Assistant Professor position (2004), University of Lausanne, Switerzland
  • Assoc Professor, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

During my entire career I worked on the barn owl on color polymorphism, sibling competition and parent-offspring interactions.

For enquiries and appointments with the guest speaker, please email Natasha Kaukov.