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Department of Biological Sciences

Faculty & Staff Directory

Jeff Dudycha

Department of Biology
University of South Carolina

Office: CLS 608
Phone Number: (803) 777-3987
Photo of Jeff Dudycha

Evolutionary Processes in the Wild

Research in our lab is rooted in evolutionary ecology, and is unified by the goal of understanding how adaptive and non-adaptive evolutionary processes interact to produce the biodiversity seen in nature. This goal has taken us from field demography through quantitative genetics, to genomics, functional genetics, physiology, and back again.  We are particularly interested in ecological diversification, genotype-environment interactions, and phenotypic plasticity.

Our Favorite Organisms

For years, our primary model system has been the crustacean Daphnia.  It allows us to juxtapose ecological and genetic data in our explorations of adaptation and divergence as they proceed in the wild because it is uniquely amenable to field work, lab experiments, and genetic analysis.  Daphnia are also ecologically important, often being the dominant herbivore in the systems they inhabit, and have been a key study organism since the dawn of experimental ecology.  Much of our work involves comparisons of populations along the pond-lake gradient, focusing on the divergence of Daphnia into temporary ponds and large permanent lakes. 

Recently, we have added cryptophyte phytoplankton as a major focus in the lab.  Cryptophytes are single-celled algae that arose as the product of secondary endosymbiosis.  As a consequence, they have an extra genome.  They also have unusual photosynthetic pigments, and these pigments are unusually diverse.  Cryptophytes are found in marine and fresh waters world wide, and we are trying to understand the connection between their photosynthetic divsersity and their niche diversity.

Our Favorite Traits

Many of the traits we study are linked to aging, the progressive decline of performance that accompanies the unavoidable increase in adult age as time passes. Thus much of our work falls into the realm of life history evolution and trade-offs in resource acquisition and allocation.  Other traits are tied to vision and eyes, and we use these to understand how animals have evolved to acquire information from their environment.  Thinking about vision led us into thinking about how organisms cope with the extraordinary varibility of light in water.  Which in turn led us to thinking about photosynthesis as another biological process dependent on light, and thus we embarked on our work with cryptophytes.

Selected Publications
Schumpert, C. A., C. Anderson*, J. L. Dudycha, and R. C. Patel.  2016.  Involvement of Daphnia pulicaria Sir2 in regulating stress response and lifespan.  Aging 8:  402-417.

Keith, N., A. E. Tucker, C. E. Jackson, W. Sung, J. I. Lucas Lledo, D. R. Schrider, S. Schaack, J. L. Dudycha, J. Shaw, and M. Lynch.  2016.  High mutational rates of large-scale duplication and deletion in Daphnia pulexGenome Research 26: 60-69.

Brandon, C. S., T. James*, and J. L. Dudycha. 2015.  Selection on incremental variation of eye size in a wild population of Daphnia.  J. Evolutionary Biology 28:  2112-2118.

Schumpert, C. A., J. L. Dudycha, and R. C. Patel.  2015.  Development of an efficient RNA interference method via feeding in the microcrustacean DaphniaBMC Biotechnology 15: 91.

Latta, L.C., M. Peacock*, D. J. Civitello, J. L. Dudycha, J. Meik, and S. Schaack. 2015. The phenotypic effects of spontaneous mutations in different environments. The American Naturalist 185: 243-252.

Brandon, C. S. & J. L. Dudycha.  2014.  Ecological constraints on sensory systems: Compound eye size in Daphnia is reduced by resource limitation.  J. Comparative Physiology A 200: 749-758.

Kim, E., C. M. Ansell, & J. L. Dudycha.  2014.  Resveratrol effects on lifespan and reproduction in the model crusteacean DaphniaJournal of Experimental Zoology A 321: 48-56.

Dudycha, J. L., M. Snoke-Smith, & R. Alía.  2013.  Correlated responses to clonal selection in populations of Daphnia pulicaria:  mechanisms of genetic correlation and the creative power of sex.  Ecology & Evolution 3:  204-216.

Dudycha, J. L., C. S. Brandon, and K. C. Deitz. 2012. Population genomics of resource exploitation: insights from gene expression profiles of two Daphnia ecotypes fed alternate resources. Ecology and Evolution. 2: 329-340. 

Heier, C. R. and J. L. Dudycha. 2009. Ecological speciation in cyclic parthenogens: Sexual capability of experimental hybrids between Daphnia pulex and Daphnia pulicaria. Limnology and Oceanography. 54: 492-502. 

Dudycha, J. L. and M. Lynch. 2005. Conserved ontogeny and allometric scaling of resource acquisition and allocation in the Daphniidae. Evolution. 59: 565-576.

Dudycha, J. L. and C. K. Geedey. 2003. Adventures of the Mad Scientist: Fostering science ethics in ecology with case studies. Frontiers in Ecology and Environmental Science. 1: 332-333.

Dudycha, J. L. 2001. The senescence of Daphnia from risky and safe habitats. Ecology Letters. 4: 102-105.