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MERILÄ LAB

Research Division of Ecology and Biodiversity, University of Hong Kong

At Merilä Lab, a highly collaborative Research Lab located in Hong Kong, we are interested in a range of problems in the fields of evolutionary biology, ecological and population genetics. Learn more about our research and areas of study below.

RESEARCH & DISCOVERIES

Some high-lights from the past

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EXTREMELY RAPID SPECIATION IN A MARINE FISH

We have recently discovered the fastest know speciation event in the marine realm that took place in the Baltic Sea and described the Baltic Flounder (Platichtys solemdali) as a new species to science. Read the original article published in PNAS from here, and article describing the new species from here. We have also uncovered a cryptic flounder assembly turn over that took place in 1990's at the Gulf of Finland, a finding published in Evolutionary Applications.

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POPULATION STRUCTURE LIMITS PARALLEL EVOLUTION

Parallel evolution of similar phenotypic traits in multiple independent populations is a testimony of the power of the natural selection. However, the degree to which such adaptations are underpinned by same or different genetic architectures, and how demographic factors influence the likelihood of parallelism have received limited attention. In series of papers (e.g. MBE 2010, Evolution 2011, Evolution 2012) we have drawn attention to often limited genetic parallelism, and demonstrated how demographic events and genetic population structure play major role as determinants of likelihood genetic parallelism (Nat Ecol Evol 2020; Mol Ecol 2021; bioXriv 2021).

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CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION - NOT QUITE THAT SIMPLE

In a review of evidence for climate change mediated evolution conducted in 2007 and published in Molecular Ecology in 2008, we noted that much of the claimed evidence did not stand scrutiny: a point that we have ever since made repeatedly in various perspective and review articles such as those published in Bioessays 2012 and Evolutionary Applications 2014. Our analysis of temporal decline in body size of Red-Billed Gulls (Larus novahollandiae) published in PNAS 2008 provides an illustration how adaptive story telling can mislead us to infer adaptation when maladaptation is the reality.