Local Adaptation in the Sea

Channeled Dogwhelk ( Nucella canaliculata ) with egg capsules. Photo: Eric Sanford.

Channeled Dogwhelk (Nucella canaliculata) with egg capsules. Photo: Eric Sanford.

How does evolution shape marine populations? Marine species are often distributed over thousands of kilometers of coastline and thus separate populations can experience strikingly different environments. However, we know surprisingly little about the extent to which environmental variation shapes evolutionary differences among populations of marine species. Work in our lab combines field studies, laboratory experiments, and analyses of sequence data to investigate (1) the scale at which adaptive differentiation occurs in marine species, and (2) the ecological and physiological consequences of these patterns in a variety of marine animals, including intertidal snails, oysters, bryozoans, tidepool copepods, and abalone. Our results suggest that geographic mosaics of selection imposed by persistent oceanographic variation can shape adaptive differentiation among populations of marine species along the coast, with consequences for species interactions, susceptibility to climate change, and management.

Selected Publications

Bible, J.M. and E. Sanford. 2016.  Local adaptation in an estuarine foundation species: implications for restoration. Biological Conservation 193: 95–102.

Kelly, M.W., E. Sanford, and R.K. Grosberg.  2012.  Limited potential for adaptation to climate change in a broadly-distributed marine crustacean. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences Series B 279: 349–356.  

Sanford, E. and M.W. Kelly. 2011.  Local adaptation in marine invertebrates.  Annual Review of Marine Science 3: 509–535.

Sanford, E. and D.J. Worth.  2010.  Local adaptation along a continuous coastline: prey recruitment drives differentiation in a predatory snail.  Ecology 91: 891–901.

Kuo, E.S.L. and E. Sanford.  2009.  Geographic variation in the upper thermal limits of an intertidal snail: implications for climate envelope models.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 388: 137–146.

Sanford, E., M.S. Roth, G.C. Johns, J.P. Wares, and G.N. Somero.  2003.  Local selection and latitudinal variation in a marine predator-prey interaction.  Science 300: 1135–113How does