Monday, October 3, 2011

Visit by Peter and Rosemary grant and lab-meeting this week

This will be quite an exciting week at our department. On Thursday and Friday, we are visited by legendary evolutionary biologists Peter and Rosemary Grant (Princeton University), who are famous for their long-term population and ecological studies of Galápagos Finches on Daphne Major. Rosemary will give a seminar on Thursday (October 6) at 13.15 (note! Not usual time at 14.00) in the "Blue Hall", entitled:  "Evolution of Darwin's Finches: the role of genetics, ecology and behaviour".

The next day, on October 7, Peter will introduce a reseach symposium in honour of the Grant couple with the theme "Microevolution in the wild". This symposium starts at 08.30, with Peter's talk which is entitled: "Microevolution in Darwin´s finches". Other contributions to this symposium comes from two members of our research lab: Anna Runemark and Maren Wellenreuther. The full programme can be found here.

Anna would like to have some feedback an input on her presentation, before the symposium, and we will therefore listen to her during our lab-meeting this week, which will take place on Thursday, October 6 at 10.00 in the seminar room "Fagus" (3rd floor, Ecology Building). Anna will bring fika. After her presentation, we will discuss a recent paper in PNAS, about the link between microevolution and macroevolution, by Uyeda, Hansen, Arnold and Pienaar entitled: "The million year wait for macroevolutionary bursts".

This is a very important paper that adresses the issue of (apparent) evolutionary stasis in phenotypic traits, and how to reconcile this with the observation that natural (and sexual) selection is generally considered to be strong in natural (contemporary) populations, and the fact that there appears to be abundant additive genetic variance for rapid evolutionary change. Yet, it seems to seldom happen, and this is what we are going to discuss. You will find the title and Abstract below. I would also like to recommend the interesting post by Chicago-professor and population geneticist Jerry Coyne who comments upon their findings at his blog "Why Evolution is True". The title of his post summarizes very well the main finding by Uyeda et al: "Want evolutionary change? Wait a million years".

The million-year wait for macroevolutionary bursts

  1. Jason Pienaarc
+ Author Affiliations
  1. aDepartment of Zoology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331;
  2. bDepartment of Biology, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, University of Oslo, 0316 Oslo, Norway; and
  3. cDepartment of Genetics, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa 0002



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