Niklas Janz

Niklas Janz


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Arbetar vid Zoologiska institutionen
Telefon 08-16 40 22
Besöksadress Svante Arrheniusväg 18 B
Rum D521
Postadress Zoologiska institutionen: Ekologi 106 91 Stockholm

Om mig

Jag är professor i evolutionär insektsekologi och avdelningsledare för Ekologi vid Zoologiska institutionen 


Jag är studierektor i Ekologi vid Zoologiska institutionen och samordnare för Masterprogrammet i Ekologi och Biodiversitet. Dessutom ger jag för närvarande två kurser: Ekologi 1 på kandidatprogrammet i biologi samt påbyggnadskursenpå masternivå i Vetenskaplighet i biologisk forskning och utredning. Utöver detta medverkar jag med enstaka föreläsningar på diverse andra kurser.


Jag arbetar med den evolutionära interaktionen mellan insekter (främst fjärilar) och deras värdväxter. Mina huvudintressen är specialisering och dynamik i värdväxtbredd, värdväxtskiften samt hur dessa processer påverkar artbildning.

Mer info hittar du på min hemsida:


I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas
  • 2011. Niklas Janz. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 42, 71-89

    After almost 50 years of scrutiny, the ideas that Ehrlich and Raven presented in their classical paper on the coevolution between butterflies and plants are still very much alive. Much of this interest has involved the potential for codiversification, both in how the interaction itself diversifies and how the interaction affects modes and rates of speciation. Despite high levels of conservatism and specialization, diversification of the interaction appears to be mainly a consequence of host shifts, but this somewhat paradoxical conclusion can be understood by an appreciation of the ecological as well as genetic mechanisms behind host shifts. There are several ways that the interaction can influence speciation, with or without host-plant-based di-vergent selection on reproductive barriers. One current debate is over the relative importance of radiations following shifts to new adaptive zones and elevated rates of speciation in groups with plastic and diverse host use.

  • 2010. Salvatore J Agosta, Niklas Janz, Daniel R Brooks. Zoologia 27 (2), 151-162

    The parasite paradox arises from the dual observations that parasites (broadly construed, including phy- tophagous insects) are resource specialists with restricted host ranges, and yet shifts onto relatively unrelated hosts are common in the phylogenetic diversification of parasite lineages and directly observable in ecological time. We synthe- size the emerging solution to this paradox: phenotypic flexibility and phylogenetic conservatism in traits related to resource use, grouped under the term ecological fitting, provide substantial opportunities for rapid host switching in changing environments, in the absence of the evolution of novel host-utilization capabilities. We discuss mechanisms behind ecological fitting, its implications for defining specialists and generalists, and briefly review empirical examples of host shifts in the context of ecological fitting. We conclude that host shifts via ecological fitting provide the fuel for the expansion phase of the recently proposed oscillation hypothesis of host range and speciation, and, more generally, the generation of novel combinations of interacting species within the geographic mosaic theory of coevolution. Finally, we conclude that taxon pulses, driven by climate change and large-scale ecological perturbation are drivers of biotic mixing and resultant ecological fitting, which leads to increased rates of rapid host switching, including the agents of Emerging Infectious Disease.

  • 2008. Niklas Janz, Sören Nylin. Specialization, speciation and radiation, 203-215
  • 2016. Maria de la Paz Celorio-Mancera (et al.). BMC Evolutionary Biology 16

    Background: Although most insect species are specialized on one or few groups of plants, there are phytophagous insects that seem to use virtually any kind of plant as food. Understanding the nature of this ability to feed on a wide repertoire of plants is crucial for the control of pest species and for the elucidation of the macroevolutionary mechanisms of speciation and diversification of insect herbivores. Here we studied Vanessa cardui, the species with the widest diet breadth among butterflies and a potential insect pest, by comparing tissue-specific transcriptomes from caterpillars that were reared on different host plants. We tested whether the similarities of gene-expression response reflect the evolutionary history of adaptation to these plants in the Vanessa and related genera, against the null hypothesis of transcriptional profiles reflecting plant phylogenetic relatedness. Result: Using both unsupervised and supervised methods of data analysis, we found that the tissue-specific patterns of caterpillar gene expression are better explained by the evolutionary history of adaptation of the insects to the plants than by plant phylogeny. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that V. cardui may use two sets of expressed genes to achieve polyphagy, one associated with the ancestral capability to consume Rosids and Asterids, and another allowing the caterpillar to incorporate a wide range of novel host-plants.

  • 2013. Maria de la Paz Celorio-Mancera (et al.). Molecular Ecology 22 (19), 4884-4895

    Transcriptome studies of insect herbivory are still rare, yet studies in model systems have uncovered patterns of transcript regulation that appear to provide insights into how insect herbivores attain polyphagy, such as a general increase in expression breadth and regulation of ribosomal, digestion- and detoxification-related genes. We investigated the potential generality of these emerging patterns, in the Swedish comma, Polygonia c-album, which is a polyphagous, widely-distributed butterfly. Urtica dioica and Ribes uva-crispa are hosts of P. c-album, but Ribes represents a recent evolutionary shift onto a very divergent host. Utilizing the assembled transcriptome for read mapping, we assessed gene expression finding that caterpillar life-history (i.e. 2nd vs. 4th-instar regulation) had a limited influence on gene expression plasticity. In contrast, differential expression in response to host-plant identified genes encoding serine-type endopeptidases, membrane-associated proteins and transporters. Differential regulation of genes involved in nucleic acid binding was also observed suggesting that polyphagy involves large scale transcriptional changes. Additionally, transcripts coding for structural constituents of the cuticle were differentially expressed in caterpillars in response to their diet indicating that the insect cuticle may be a target for plant defence. Our results state that emerging patterns of transcript regulation from model species appear relevant in species when placed in an evolutionary context.

  • 2016. Niklas Janz (et al.). Evolution 70 (5), 1150-1155

    The diversification of plant-feeding insects is seen as a spectacular example of evolutionary radiation. Hence, developing hypotheses to explain this diversification, and methods to test them, is an important undertaking. Some years ago, we presented the oscillation hypothesis as a general process that could drive diversification of this and similar interactions, through repeated expansions and contractions of host ranges. Hamm and Fordyce recently presented a study with the outspoken intention of testing this hypothesis where they concluded that the oscillation hypothesis was not supported. We point out several problems with their study, owing both to a misrepresentation of our hypothesis and to the methods. We provide a clarifying description of the oscillation hypothesis, and detail some predictions that follow from it. A reanalysis of the data demonstrated a troubling sensitivity of the "SSE" class of models to small changes in model specification, and we caution against using them for tests of trait-based diversification. Future tests of the hypothesis also need to better acknowledge the processes behind the host range oscillations. We suspect that doing so will resolve some of the apparent conflicts between our hypothesis and the view presented by Hamm and Fordyce.

  • 2018. Sören Nylin (et al.). Trends in Ecology & Evolution 33 (1), 4-14

    Parasitehost and insectplant research have divergent traditions despite the fact that most phytophagous insects live parasitically on their host plants. In parasitology it is a traditional assumption that parasites are typically highly specialized; cospeciation between parasites and hosts is a frequently expressed default expectation. Insectplant theory has been more concerned with host shifts than with cospeciation, and more with hierarchies among hosts than with extreme specialization. We suggest that the divergent assumptions in the respective fields have hidden a fundamental similarity with an important role for potential as well as actual hosts, and hence for host colonizations via ecological fitting. A common research program is proposed which better prepares us for the challenges from introduced species and global change.

  • 2006. Niklas Janz, Sören Nylin, Niklas Wahlberg. BMC Evol Biol 6 (1), 4

    Background: Plant-feeding insects make up a large part of earth's total biodiversity. While it has been shown that herbivory has repeatedly led to increased diversification rates in insects, there has been no compelling explanation for how plant-feeding has promoted speciation rates. There is a growing awareness that ecological factors can lead to rapid diversification and, as one of the most prominent features of most insect-plant interactions, specialization onto a diverse resource has often been assumed to be the main process behind this diversification. However, specialization is mainly a pruning process, and is not able to actually generate diversity by itself. Here we investigate the role of host colonizations in generating insect diversity, by testing if insect speciation rate is correlated with resource diversity.

    Results: By applying a variant of independent contrast analysis, specially tailored for use on questions of species richness (MacroCAIC), we show that species richness is strongly correlated with diversity of host use in the butterfly family Nymphalidae. Furthermore, by comparing the results from reciprocal sister group selection, where sister groups were selected either on the basis of diversity of host use or species richness, we find that it is likely that diversity of host use is driving species richness, rather than vice versa.

    Conclusion: We conclude that resource diversity is correlated with species richness in the Nymphalidae and suggest a scenario based on recurring oscillations between host expansions – the incorporation of new plants into the repertoire – and specialization, as an important driving force behind the diversification of plant-feeding insects.

Visa alla publikationer av Niklas Janz vid Stockholms universitet

Senast uppdaterad: 8 januari 2019

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