Monday, March 16, 2009

Visit by Finnish colleagues this week

As you hopefully already know, Drs. Katja Tynkkynen and Janne Kotiaho from University of Jyväskylä in Finland will visit our department and our research group this week. They will arrive tomorrow (Tuesday), and will participate in our lab-meeting on Wednesday morning (10.15). Maren will provide some "fika".

We will discuss two papers suggested by Janne, that have already been sent out to you. Please contact me or anyone else in the group if you have not got these papers, so that you are prepared for Wednesday morning. Both papers deal with species concepts and speciation, one with Lamarck's species concept, the other with definitions of sympatric speciation.

The title of the papers for the seminar are:

Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck

On classification and evolution

Philosophie zoologique, ou exposition des considérations
relatives à l'histoire naturelle des animaux.

(Zoological Philosophy. An Exposition with
Regard to the Natural History of Animals)

by J.B. Lamarck
Translated by Hugh Elliot

Macmillan, London 1914
Reprinted by University of Chicago Press, 1984


Fitzpatrick et al. 2008. What, if anything is sympatric speciation? 2008.
J. Evol. Biol. 21:1452-1459.

After the lab-meeting, I will bring Janne for a lunch on Wednesday together with Susanne Åkesson, Anders Brodin, Anders Hedenström and Dennis Hasselquist. We will plan the International Behavioural Ecology Congress (ISBE) that will take place in Lund 2012, and we would like to get some feedback and advices from Janne about his experiences when he arranged the ISBE-meeting in Jyväskylä a few years ago. I hope the rest of you can take care of Katja during Wednesday lunch. The afternoon will be set aside for scientific discussions in the "Darwin"-room, where Katja will present some of her work.

On Thursday (19/3), Janne will present a talk about the history of sexual selection, that will take place in the "Blue Hall" (bottom floor in the Ecology Building) at 14.00. The title of this talk is:

"The past and present of the theory of sexual selection through mate choice"

Janne has promised to present a historical overview about the intellectual roots of the idéa of sexual selection through female choice, and the (possible) role of the feminist movement in affecting its scientific acceptance in the early 1980'ties, more than hundred years after it was originally developed by Charles Darwin.

This is likely to be a fun, and perhaps also controversial talk, so do not miss it! Janne has promised to "discuss some of the slightly less pleasent aspects of the current scientific enterprise through some examples stemming from sexual selection.". We are indeed looking forward to this.


  1. hej,
    the program sounds amazing, and i wish i could be there to represent the true french evolutioary biology, but i will be too busy taking care of Izak.
    However, i thought i could share with you guys these wise sentences coming from a letter written by Darwin to a friend, which is quite enlighting I think, considering he wrote that 15 years before he published the origin of species...

    At last gleams of light have come, & I am almost convinced (quite contrary to opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable. Heaven forfend me from Lamarck nonsense of a 'tendency to progression', 'adaptations from the slow willing of animals', &c—but the conclusions I am led to are not widely different from his—though the means of change are wholly so—I think I have found out (here's presumption!) the simple way by which species become exquisitely adapted to various ends.
    — Charles Robert Darwin
    Letter to J. D. Hooker, 11 January 1844. In F. Burkhardt and S. Smith (eds.), The Correspondence of Charles Darwin 1844-1846 (1987), Vol. 3, 2.

    Finlly, something from Lamarck which is also quite intersting, although it might be in the paper you are gonna discuss, but still just in case:

    It is not always the magnitude of the differences observed between species that must determine specific distinctions, but the constant preservation of those differences in reproduction.
    — Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Cheval Lamarck
    'Espece', Encyclopédie Methodique Botanique (1773-1789), Vol. 2, 396. In Pietro Corsi, The Age of Lamarck: Evolutionary Theories in France 1790- 1830, trans. J. Mandelbaum, (1988), 43.

  2. It seems to me that Lamarck deserves credit for proposing evolution as such (more credit than he typically receives), but Darwin's misgivings here seem well grounded to me. Lamarck believed in an innate drive towards complexity, he denied the fact of extinction (unlike many of his contemporaries), his version of evolutionary change was non-branching (or at least not entirely branching), and he gave a large functional role to spontaneous generation in the evolutionary process. His ideas on heredity (ironically, in light of the term "Lamarckian inheritance") were not the biggest problem, and were at least consistent with what most people at that time thought. Darwin was thus wise to see the problems with Lamarck's vision of evolution. Interestingly, another early French naturalist, Buffon, clearly articulated the Biological Species Concept long before Lamarck. Buffon is another who seems to deserve far more credit and consideration than he receives.

    Of course, we all know the BSC is just BS, but I forgive Lamarck and Buffon anyway.

  3. How great it is to see the intellectual discussion taking off on this blogg already after two posts! Thanks Fabrice and Shawn for some interesting thoughts.

    It is too bad that Fabrice cannot join in on Wednesday, given we are going to discuss work by the great FRENCH scientist Lamarck. I guess we might have to post something on this blogg if we come up with something interesting that we want to share with the rest.

    Many thanks for your participation. Now I am just waiting for more comments. And when will the next bloggpost, by somebody else than me, be posted???

  4. By the way:

    Shawn, you could register as a "follower" of this blogg, like Fabrice, Maren and Tina have already done. And do not forget to join our lab group on Facebook!