Frank Johansson

professor at Department of Ecology and Genetics, Animal Ecology

+4618-471 6488
Visiting address:
Evolutionsbiologiskt centrum (EBC)
Norbyvägen 18 D
Postal address:
Norbyvägen 18 D
752 36 UPPSALA

Short presentation

In my research I focus on 1) the evolution of phenotypic plasticity and local adaptation of population and species in response to environmental changes, and biodiversity in urban environments. I use dragonflies, frogs and fish as my model organisms, and I focus on life history traits and neutral genetic markers. Currently I am running four projects, see biography below.

Also available at

My courses



Cryptic genetic variation and adaptation in novel environments

The aim is to understand cryptic genetic variation and adaptation at range margins. Cryptic genetic variation (the dark matter of biology), is variation that is normally not expressed, but is released when the organism encounters a novel environment. In stable environments, selection generally stabilizes towards an optimum that might not be optimal at novel environments. Nevertheless, most organisms are capable of quite fast adaptation to novel environments, and cryptic genetic variation is a potential explanation for this puzzling observation. Life history and morphological traits, and gene expression will be studied in a damselfly system, and a mixture of field experiment, laboratory experiment and molecular methods are being used.

Species-genetic diversity correlation in a network of of urban ponds

There are two main aims in this project. The first aim is to understand how the correlation between species diversity and genetic diversity in a network of city ponds is affected by environmental variables and community ecology effects. The second is to provide a web-based support system that allows stakeholders to plan, design and evaluate biodiversity in urban city ponds.

Evolutionary ecology of colour communication in sexual selection and predator-prey interactions

In this project we explore the eco-evolutionary processes driving colour visual communication evolution in natural systems. We study the possible coevolution of colour signals and colour vision at the intraspecific and interspecific levels. Damselflies of the genera Calopteryx is our focus species, but we also study interaction in a food web using flies and birds with respect to colour vison.

Potential responses to climate change: from genotype to community level

In this research we are characterizing intraspecific and interspecific genetic variation in life history traits at different temperature scenarios in aquatic insects (damselflies). Given the predicted increase in mean global temperature, such knowledge is important for predictions on species abundance and distribution in the future, because evolutionary responses require genetic variation among individuals. Some of the questions we are answering are: 1) Is there less genetic variation at range margins compared to the center of a species’ distribution? 2) Are northern species more vulnerable to climate change than southern species? 3) How do community interactions affect the predicted life history response obtained from single species laboratory experiments?

My research is funded by The Swedish Research Council, Oscar and Lili Lamms Foundation, Uppsala University, and Olle Engqvist foundation

Contact: frank.johansson[at]



Post docs


Former lab members

Yvonne Meyer-Lucht

Warren Kunce

Malgorzata Blicharska

Tomas Brodin

Helena Johansson

Martin Lind

Dirk Mikolajewski

Viktor Nilsson-Örtman

David Outomuro

Zlatko Petrin


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