EEB Seminar – 2 March

This week EEB welcomes Maggie Boothroyd from the Department of Biology, Trent University:

Assessment of demographic and genetics juvenile lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) following an adult reintroduction (translocation) effort in a fragmented river system


Lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) experienced historical overharvest across their distribution, leading to endangered species listings and subsequent protection and recovery efforts. Despite protections from harvest and habitat degradation, many populations do not appear to be recovering, which has been attributed to habitat alteration and fragmentation by dams. Reintroductions and translocation have the potential to assist recovery of lake sturgeon populations by partly mitigating fragmentation and dispersal barriers created by dams, and enabling recolonization of areas that would otherwise be inaccessible. In 2002, 51 adult lake sturgeon from the Little Long section of the Mattagami River were relocated 340 km upstream to a fragmented 35-km stretch of the river between two generating stations, where they were believed to be extirpated. This study is an assessment of the adult translocation reintroduction effort, which includes a genetic assessment, identification of spawning grounds, and a spawning migration analysis. Since the reintroduction, catches of juvenile lake sturgeon have increased over time, with 150 juveniles being caught within the duration of this study. The results indicate that the reintroduction effort was successful, with evidence of successful spawning and the presence of juvenile lake sturgeon within the reintroduction site. The preliminary genetic results indicate reintroduced individuals are parents of juveniles within the population. Overall, the results suggest adult translocations may be a useful tool for re-establishing other extirpated lake sturgeon populations.

The EEB Seminars run weekly, on Thursdays, in the EEB Lounge of the BioSciences Complex, Room 4338, from 12:30-1:30pm. Light refreshments are served starting at 12:15.

EEB Seminar – 16 February

This week EEB welcomes John Serafini from the Department of Biology, Queen’s University:

Effects of resource manipulation on temperate grassland vegetation under a changing climate


It is predicted that by modifying circulation patterns and hydrologic processes climate change will strongly alter global precipitation regimes. From an ecological perspective, this prediction has garnered extensive concern and curiosity because water availability is the primary regulator of plant productivity and competitive interactions in many terrestrial ecosystems. Extensive research has consequently explored how precipitation regime changes might alter ecosystem functioning, with the majority of these experiments manipulating soil moisture availability in water limited ecosystems. The impact of altered rainfall on plant productivity relative to other key environmental factors is however less clear for mesic environments characterized by a stable supply of moisture. To address this research need, my Master’s research has explored how the interaction of below-ground water and nutrient availability and above-ground herbivory, each of which are important regulators of plant growth, determine the productivity and composition of grassland plant communities within Eastern Ontario’s temperate climate.

The EEB Seminars run weekly, on Thursdays, in the EEB Lounge of the BioSciences Complex, Room 4338, from 12:30-1:30pm. Light refreshments are served starting at 12:15.


We regret to inform you that due to an injury, today’s EEB seminar speaker will not be able to make it in. Therefore, the EEB talk will be cancelled, and will be tentatively rescheduled for early April.

We apologize for the short notice, and for any inconvenience this may cause.

We look forward to seeing you all next Thursday, February 16th when EEB seminars will resume.

EEB Seminar – 9 February

This week EEB welcomes Dr. Ivana Schoepf from the Department of Biology, Queens University:

When to live alone and when to live in groups? A field experiment of the habitat saturation hypothesis


Animals display highly diverse social systems ranging from species that live solitarily to species that live in complex social groups, such as cooperative breeding species with helpers at the nest. Several studies have aimed to understand why social groups form and how they are maintained. Theory predicts that group-living can arise as a consequence of ecological constraints, while reproductive competition between group members should lead to increased costs of group-living, and thus promotes solitary-living. Several studies have confirmed the “ecological constraints” model (also known as the Habitat Saturation Hypothesis), but field experimental tests of the reproductive competition hypothesis are lacking. Here I will present the results of a field manipulation experiment performed on a wild African mammal aimed at testing these hypotheses.

The EEB Seminars run weekly, on Thursdays, in the EEB Lounge of the BioSciences Complex, Room 4338, from 12:30-1:30pm. Light refreshments are served starting at 12:15.

EEB Seminar – 2 February

This week EEB welcomes Dr. Rute Clemente-Carvalho from the Department of Biology, Queen’s University:

What are the implications of miniaturization in amphibian body size – a remarkable example in the genus Brachycephalus


Body size matters in evolution because it contributes to ecological divergence and accompanies adaptive radiations in many clades. Drastic size changes, such as miniaturization, have been documented in all three amphibian Orders, and have evolved independently many times. Although diminutive size makes the amphibians more vulnerable to desiccation and predation, it also enables them to hide more easily, exploit alternate food sources, use physically smaller niches, and attain reproductive maturity at an earlier age. In addition, miniaturization is also followed by morphological novelties.

Toads of the genus Brachycephalus are endemic to the Atlantic rainforests of northeastern, southeastern, and southern Brazil, and are an outstanding example of miniaturization. In fact, one species, B. didactylus, is among the smallest frogs in the world, with a snout-vent length of just 10.2 mm. A remarkable phenotypic feature among Brachycephalus species is a gradient in the degree of mineralization of the skeleton, loss of cranial elements, fingers and toes, and morphological changes in structures such as the pectoral girdle. In my presentation, I will explore Brachycephalus morphological diversity, and its relationship with the phylogenetic hypothesis proposed, using a multilocus approach based on nuclear and mitochondrial genes.

The EEB Seminars run weekly, on Thursdays, in the EEB Lounge of the BioSciences Complex, Room 4338, from 12:30-1:30pm. Light refreshments are served starting at 12:15.

EEB Seminar – 26 January

This week EEB welcomes Dr. Jim Quinn from the Department of Biology, McMaster University:

Cooperation and conflict within groups of joint-nesting cooperative birds


The most common mode of cooperative breeding, “helper-at-the-nest” systems are typically made up of a dominant monogamous pair along with their adult offspring breeding on a traditional territory. Genetic monogamy on limited territories, resulting in adult helpers that are siblings to the offspring they help may be explained by kin selection. Nonetheless, helpers may gain individual fitness benefits by remaining on safe and limited territories, gaining practice at parental care, and inheriting territories.

My students and I study an uncommon system of cooperatively breeding joint-nesting birds that live in groups with multiple male and female breeders sharing a single nest. Pukeko are polygynandrous rails from New Zealand that live in kin groups in much of their range. Smooth-billed anis are socially monogamous cuckoos that live and breed in groups of non-kin. I will examine adaptations for group living, as well as conflicts within groups that lack monogamy or kinship.

The EEB Seminars run weekly, on Thursdays, in the EEB Lounge of the BioSciences Complex, Room 4338, from 12:30-1:30pm. Light refreshments are served starting at 12:15.

Departmental Seminar – 19 January

This week EEB welcomes Dr. Anne Charmantier from the Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CEFE) in Montpellier, France:

Testing for local adaptation in wild passerines: from phenotypic to genomic approaches


I will present two projects that have started with the revelation, based on long-term individual monitoring, of phenotypic differences between close populations of Paridae. First, strong phenotypic divergence was measured for many morphological, life history and behavioural characters in blue tits from deciduous versus evergreen habitats in the south of France, with populations as close as 5 km. Second phenotypic differences were described between great tits living in an oak forest versus an urban environment, as well as along an urbanisation gradient. In both case studies, I will show how we have pieced together our knowledge on gene flow, natural selection, quantitative genetic variation and genomic footprints of selection to test whether the strong phenotypic differences witnessed could be attributed to local adaptation, thereby supporting the existence of different ecotypes at a spatial scale smaller than the species dispersal distance.

This seminar will be held on Thursday in the BioSciences Complex, Room 3110, from 12:30-1:30pm. Light refreshments are served starting at 12:15.