David Dayan

Ph.D. Candidate, Marine Biology and Fisheries

University of Miami

Rosenstiel School Marine and Atmospheric Sciences


My research interest lies primarily in the field of evolutionary physiology.

I am currently investigating the effect of thermal variation on muscle physiology and performance in Fundulus heteroclitus. Large, genetically disparate populations of Fundulus heteroclitus are distributed across a steep thermal cline along the Atlantic coast of North America. This distribution makes Fundulus an ideal system in which to study the process of adaptation. The muscle of many fish species, however, demonstrate remarkable phenotypic plasticity in response to varying environmental temperature. Phenotypic plasticity may influence the rate and trajectory of adaptation. My research compares these two processes (evolutionary adaptation and phenotypic plasticity) from the level of genes to physiology and organismal performance in order to better understand how genetic variation interacts with the environment to produce variation in ecologically relevant phenotypes.

In addition to elucidating an interesting physiological process, and characterizing adaptive variation among natural populations, my research provides fundamental insight into the nature of adaptation to variable environmental conditions, furthering our ability to predict how environmental change affects population and species distributions. Such knowledge is particularly salient considering the challenges posed by global climate change on biological populations.