CIE Seminar Series 2015 – Can we predict phenotypic evolution in nature? Challenges and prospects

Daniel NobleSPEAKER: Dr Daniel Noble, ARC DECRA Fellow, Ecology & Evolution Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES), The University of New South Wales, Sydney
DATE: Friday, 22nd May 2015
LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka5.303
TIME: 12:00 noon
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood HD3.008/09 and Warrnambool Campus, Room G1.01 (Percy Baxter LT)

ABSTRACT: Predicting phenotypic change has been met with great challenges in many natural systems owing to the multivariate nature of phenotypes, the interplay between genetic and non-genetic factors during phenotypic development, and the complex patterns of selection in the wild.

In this talk I will outline some of the challenges we face in explicitly making predictions of phenotypic change using examples from my own research and discussing whether an extended evolutionary synthesis might be helpful.

I will highlight some important shifts in approaches that I believe are required for us to make more informed predictions on phenotypic change in nature and discuss important gaps in how we quantify phenotypes, selection and heritability that currently leave out the key role of development and the environment in affecting key evolutionary parameters.

BIO: Dan recently completed his PhD, under the supervision of Martin Whiting and Scott Keogh, at Macquarie University, Sydney.

Dan uses lizards to address a variety of research questions targeted at quantifying levels of variation in cognitive and behavioural traits, determining what factors drive variation in these traits, how these traits covary and how selection operates on these traits.

He was recently awarded an ARC DECRA to begin addressing questions about how the environment shapes the development of phenotypic variation and ultimately how selection acts on developmental trajectories.


  1. D.W.A. Noble, Kerrie Wechmann, J. S. Keogh, M.J. Whiting (2013) Behavioral and morphological traits interact to promote the evolution of alternative reproductive tactics in a lizard. The American Naturalist, 182: 726-742.
  2. D.W.A. Noble, R.W. Bryne, M.J. Whiting (2014) Age-dependent social learning in a lizard. Biology Letters, 10: 20140430; doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0430.
  3. Pau Carazo, D.W.A. Noble, Dani Chandrasoma, Martin J. Whiting (2014) Sex and boldness explain individual differences in learning in a lizard. Proceedings of the Royal Society: B., 281: 20133275; doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.3275.

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via Vincent Careau