Who I am and What I do

I'm currently co-organizing a research programme and summer school bringing together mathematicians and biologists to explore new approaches in the fields of ecology and evolution. All the information is in the link below.

Ecosystem dynamics : stakes, data and models

17 June – 12 July 2019 - Saclay, France

Don't hesitate to contact me for more information!

Who I am:

I am a theoretical biologist working on the evolution of reproductive strategies and, in turn, their consequences on species evolution. I am also working on introducing demography as a variable and not a parameter in population genetics models for a more complete picture of the forces acting on species evolution.

What I do:

I develop theoretical models that take reproductive systems, population demography and life-history strategies into account. I am interested in two main fields of Evolution and Ecology: 1) The consequences and evolution of self-fertilisation and 2) The feed-back between demographic (i.e. life-history strategies) and genetic processes.

The consequences and evolution of self-fertilisation

Though self-fertilisation offers the advantage of reproductive assurance (Baker's law: a single individual can found a new population), it has been suggested that, due to lower genetic variance and higher probabilities of fixation of deleterious mutations, it is an evolutionary dead-end. In order to understand the role of self-fertilization on population genetics, and in what conditions it evolves, I have worked with models considering only unconditionally deleterious mutations (Abu Awad et al. 2014, Abu Awad and Billiard 2017) and also with quantitative trait models that offer a more realistic genetic architecture concerning compensatory mutations and epistatic interactions (Abu Awad and Roze 2018).

A project on how the adaptative potential of populations is influenced by the associations between loci generated by selfing is underway.

The feed-back between demographic and genetic processes

Demographic processes are an essential, but often neglected, aspect of population evolution. This is especially true in light of recent genome-wide studies showing a correlation between the genetic diversity maintained within species and their life-history strategies. I therefore find it primordial to incorporate both the demographic and genetic properties of populations into theoretical models for a better understanding of the dynamics and observed patterns of species’ evolution. So far I have worked on incorporating demo-genetic feedback (e.g. see this article for a vulgarization of Abu Awad and Billiard 2017), pereniality (Abu Awad et al. 2016) and r- and K- life history strategies (Abu Awad and Coron, 2018) into population genetics models.

I am currently collaborating with Camille Coron to develop a model in which we aim to provide more comprehensive definitions of the selective coefficient, reflecting differences in life-history traits between individuals. During my stay in Aurélien Tellier's lab as a TUM Fellow, I will be developing models examining the effects of the reproductive system on the evolution of seed-banks.