EEB Seminar: December 7

This week the department is pleased to welcome Risa Sargent from the University of Ottawa.

Alien species introductions – a community perspective

Risa 2017

What are the major impacts of an alien introduction on other species in the community? We know that that aliens compete with, but may also often facilitate, the reproductive success of native plant species. Moreover, alien plant traits are under selection by, and can evolve in response to insect herbivory. The work in my lab demonstrates that the community level impacts of interactions with aliens are complex, and that deep held assumptions may be hindering our ability to identify general patterns.

The EEB Seminars run weekly, on Thursdays, in the EEB Lounge of the BioSciences Complex, Room 4338, from 12:30-1:30pm. This week there will be a pizza lunch to follow in the EEB Lounge.

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EEB Seminar: November 30th

This week the department is pleased to welcome Andrew Gonzalez from McGill University.

Diversity, stability and evolution of networks

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In this talk, I will present an approach that views ecological and evolutionary systems as complex evolving networks. For example, network patterns of selection, extinction and colonization can govern the stability and adaptive capacity of communities responding to environmental change.  Species are also connected in networks by their interactions to form food webs, mutualist webs, and host-disease webs. I will integrate these dimensions of ecological networks to show how species interaction networks, such as food webs, reorganize as their component species shift in space through time in response to habitat loss and climate change. 

I will also introduce the idea of community evolutionary rescue. I will explain this new concept and give results from high throughput experimental evolution to show how spatial networks of populations and communities can rapidly evolve in response to extreme environmental stress.

I will close with an application of a network approach to the design of protected ecosystem networks for biodiversity, using the case study of Montreal. This research was a response to a request for knowledge from the Quebec government. Our findings are currently being applied to the design of the green belt and green infrastructure in and around the city.

The EEB Seminars run weekly, on Thursdays, in the EEB Lounge of the BioSciences Complex, Room 4338, from 12:30-1:30pm. This week there will be a pizza lunch to follow in the EEB Lounge.

EEB Seminar: November 23

This week the department is pleased to welcome our own James Sinclair.

What drives colonist success?

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Colonization plays a central role in much of the theory (e.g. metapopulations) and applications (e.g. biocontrol, invasion, recovery) of ecology. Because of its importance, it is essential that we develop our understanding of, and ability to manage, the colonization process. One of the primary population-level factors that can influence colonist success is the number of colonists. Larger populations are more likely to colonize because they are less vulnerable to the demographic, environmental, and genetic processes that can drive extinction. Applied efforts to control colonist success are likewise often focused on augmenting or reducing the size of colonizing populations. However, there are other, less studied, factors that could also affect colonist success, such as the quality of colonists or the frequency with which new individuals arrive. The goal of my PhD work was to investigate the relative importance of multiple colonist characteristics – specifically population size, colonist quality, and arrival frequency. Is there a single, dominant factor that drives colonist success? Or can their relative importance vary, and if so what might that mean for how we manage colonization?

The EEB Seminars run weekly, on Thursdays, in the EEB Lounge of the BioSciences Complex, Room 4338, from 12:30-1:30pm.

EEB Seminar: November 16

This week the department is pleased to welcome our very own Ryan Franckowiak.

Reproductive fitness of Micropterus dolomieu under heterogeneous environmental conditions

Ryan.PNG

Identifying the biotic and abiotic factors influencing individual reproductive fitness under natural conditions is essential for understanding important aspects of a species’ evolutionary biology and ecology, population dynamics, and life-history evolution. A reconstructed molecular pedigree for adult smallmouth bass spawning in Lake Opeongo was used to characterize the genetic mating system and mate selection, examine the extent of natal philopatry and the strength and direction of sex-bias dispersal, and assess the inter-annual variance in reproductive success in a large, heterogeneous natural system. A high reproductive skew among breeding adults was observed with the majority of offspring being produced by a relatively small number of spawning adults. The difference in reproductive success among adults was shown to be strongly influenced by summer water temperature, male body size, and, to a lesser extent, fetch. These findings provide key insights into this species reproductive ecology that will improve our ability to understand and predict how populations will likely respond to various biotic and abiotic stressors, management and conservation actions, and global climate change.

The EEB Seminars run weekly, on Thursdays, in the EEB Lounge of the BioSciences Complex, Room 4338, from 12:30-1:30pm.

EEB Seminar: November 9th

This week the department welcomes Marc Johnson from the University of Toronto, Mississauga.

 

Evolution in the urban jungleMarc Johnson

Although the world is becoming increasingly urbanized and the majority of humans now live in cities, we know little about how urbanization and human activity affect the evolution of life around us. In this talk, I will examine how urbanization affects adaptive and non-adaptive evolution and how this might affect species conservation, ecosystem functioning, and the control of pests in our cities.

The EEB Seminars run weekly, on Thursdays, in the EEB Lounge of the BioSciences Complex, Room 4338, from 12:30-1:30pm. This week there will be a pizza lunch to follow in the EEB Lounge.

 

EEB Seminar: November 2

This week the department is pleased to welcome Rob Ness from University of Toronto Mississauga.

Mutation rate variation and its consequences for genome evolution

Rob Ness
It is widely recognized that the rate of de novo mutation is variable between species and across the genome. Investigating mutation rate variation is crucial for understanding how diversity in the genome shapes disease, fitness and ultimately evolution. However, the fact there are only ~1-10 mutations per billion genome sites in a generation has impeded our progress on describing the basic properties of de novo mutation. In my talk I will discuss widely held beliefs about how mutation rate varies and test these ideas with data from a large-scale investigation of mutation rate in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. I will also present a model that borrows techniques from machine learning to predict the mutation rate at individual sites based on their genomic properties. Using this model of mutability I will explore how fine-scale variation in mutation rate interacts with natural selection to impact the maintenance of genetic diversity.
The EEB Seminars run weekly, on Thursdays, in the EEB Lounge of the BioSciences Complex, Room 4338, from 12:30-1:30pm. This week there will be a pizza lunch to follow in the EEB Lounge.

EEB Seminar- October 26th

This week the department is pleased to welcome our very own Bob Montgomerie.

Discovering birds in the Great White North

Much of the early history of ornithology in Canada involved Arctic exploration. Drawing on reports from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, I will tell stories about a half dozen expeditions to the Canadian Arctic that enriched our knowledge of birds and ornithology. Early expeditions searched for minerals and a northwest passage to the orient but often involved naturalists who studied birds along the way. Later expeditions simply wanted to find out where some poorly known species bred or to document the natural histories of uncharted territory where no European had ever traveled. Early naturalists and explorers in the Canadian Arctic often endured unimaginable hardship and tragedy in the pursuit of adventure and knowledge about the world and its wildlife. At the very least we should honour their memory by continuing to protect our natural heritage in the north.

The EEB Seminars run weekly, on Thursdays, in the EEB Lounge of the BioSciences Complex, Room 4338, from 12:30-1:30pm.