Saturday, February 27, 2010
This coming Wednesday (March 3, 2010), I am pleased to welcome Dr. Jessica Ware, who is currently a NSF-funded postdoctoral scholar at the American Museum of Natural History in New York (USA). Dr. Ware obtained her thesis at Rutgers University in New Jersey, under the supervision of Professor Mike May, and she is currently a NSF-funded postdoctoral scholar at the invertebrate section of the American Museum of Natural History. Her main research interests are phylogenetics and evolution of odonates, particularly dragonflies, and she uses molecular methods to reconstruct phylogenetic trees and ancestral character states, particularly in Libelluloid dragonflies (Odonata: Anisoptera).
Jessica has also collaborated recently with conservation biologist Prof. Michael J. Samways at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, on the evolutionary history of south african odonates, a researcher which I also recently have obtained a collaborative research grant with from SIDA/VR. You can find a list of Jessica's publications here.
Jessica will give an informal presentation of her research on the lab-meeting this Wednesday, at the usual time (March 3, 10.15) and place ("Darwin Room"). Do not miss this exciting opportunity to learn more about systematics, phylogeny reconstruction, comparative methods and dragonfly evolutionary biology!
I am currently visiting the well-known university town Oxford (UK), where I have given an invited research seminar at the Edward Grey Institute, which belongs to the famous Department of Zoology at South Parks Road. It has been very stimulating, as usual when interacting with research colleagues, and there has also been plenty of times for walking in the city and enjoying several pints of nice bitter!
I can strongly recommend a visit to Oxford with its cosy and history-laden academic atmosphere. Enjoy the pictures!
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Thomas former postdoc Arnaud Le Rouzic will also visit us, and will give a short presentation of his research during our lab-meeting on Wednesday (10.15; Thomas will arrive later, in Wednesday afternoon). During our lab-meeting on Wednesday, I was thinking we should also discuss a paper about evolutionary quantative genetics, authored by Steve Chenoweth et al:
The paper can be downloaded here. Most of you probably already know that Steve Chenoweth is the postdoc host of Tom Gosden, former PhD-student in our lab.
Also, you should of course not miss the exciting Thursday seminar (18 February at 14.00 in "Blue Hall") by Thomas, also on the theme of quantitative genetics, with the title:
Measuring evolvability and constraints with examples from the evolution of Dalechampia blossoms
We do thus have a very exciting week ahead of us!
In the latest issue of Trends in Ecology & Evolution, the cover photo is a couple of mating damselflies (Ischnura elegans), one of our favourite study species. It is of course very pleasing to see both this photo on the cover, and the flattering coverage of our research in a a review article by Charlie K. Cornwallis and Tobias Uller, entitled Towards an evolutionary ecology of sexual traits. Cornwallis and Uller discusses a number of recent articles about the dynamics of sexual selection over several generations, including a paper published by Tom Gosden and me entitled Spatial and temporal dynamics in a sexual selection mosaic (in Evolution, 2008).
Here is the abstract of the review article by Cornwallis and Uller:
References and further reading may be available for this article. To view references and further reading you must purchase this article.
Empirical studies of sexual traits continue to generate conflicting results, leading to a growing awareness that the current understanding of this topic is limited. Here we argue that this is because studies of sexual traits fail to encompass three important features of evolution. First, sexual traits evolve via natural selection of which sexual selection is just one part. Second, selection on sexual traits fluctuates in strength, direction and form due to spatial and temporal environmental heterogeneity. Third, phenotypic plasticity is ubiquitous and generates selection and responses to selection within and across generations. A move from purely gene-focused theories of sexual selection towards research that explicitly integrates development, ecology and evolution is necessary to break the stasis in research on sexual traits.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Vol. 94, pp. 907–912, February 1997
Here is the abstract:
Heterochrony has become a central organizing concept relating development and evolution. Unfortunately, the standard definition of heterochrony—evolutionary change in the rate or timing of developmental processes—is so broad as to apply to any case of phenotypic evolution. Conversely, the standard classes of heterochrony only accurately describe a small subset of the possible ways that ontogeny can change. I demonstrate here that the nomenclature of heterochrony is meaningful only when there is a uniform change in the rate or timing of some ontogenetic process, with no change in the internal structure of that process. Given two ontogenetic trajectories, we can test for this restricted definition of heterochrony by asking if a uniform stretching or translation of one trajectory along the time axis superimposes it on the other trajectory. If so, then the trajectories are related by a uniform change in the rate or timing of development. If not, then there has been change within the ontogenetic process under study. I apply this technique to published data on fossil Echinoids and to the comparison of human and chimpanzee growth curves. For the Echinoids, some characters do show heterochrony (hypermorphosis), while others, which had previously been seen as examples of heterochrony, fail the test—implying that their evolution involved changes in the process of development, not just the rate at which it proceeded. Analysis of human and chimpanzee growth curves indicates a combination of neoteny and sequential hypermorphosis, two processes previously seen as alternate explanations for the differences between these species.
I hope you can all come. I will try to remember to bring fika.
Monday, February 1, 2010
This coming Wednesday (February 3), there will first be a presentation from Heather Halenbeck, an officer from the Fulbright Commission, who will inform about their prestigious scholarships in "Darwin" at 10.00, i. e. during our regular lab-meeting time. This presentation will start at 10.00, and both undergraduates, PhD-students, postdocs and senior scientists are welcome to attend.
Heather's presentation will end around 11.00, whereafter our regular lab-meeting will start, with two papers for discussion chosen by Mactheld Verzijden about insect learning. You are most welcome to attend both of these meetings, of course. Thus, either come at 10.00 or at 11.00, depending on your preferences. Please spread this information also to other interested in the Ecology Building.