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May 21, 2015
In the last two decades, models from evolutionary biology have made important contributions to demographic research on human fertility change. Within this evolutionary framework, two distinct traditions have focused on different processes of adaptation and time scales of change: (1) behavioral ecological perspectives have focused on how individual fertility decisions are shaped by local ecological circumstances, while (2) cultural evolutionary approaches have emphasized the role of socially transmitted information and changing social norms in shaping fertility behavior. While each tradition has made independent progress, research that integrates these approaches is necessary to improve our understanding of real fertility behavior, which results from a feedback between individual fertility decisions and social change. This approach requires combined attention to immediate ecological determinants of fertility decisions as well as the long-term processes that shape costs and benefits in a given environment. This workshop will bring together an international team of evolutionary behavioral scientists with complementary methodological and theoretical expertise in anthropology, psychology, and demography to develop (a) a synthetic article which proposes how these approaches can be integrated methodologically and theoretically, (b) an empirical article which applies our new synthetic framework to the study of fertility change in a particular fieldsite, demonstrating how the new methodological approach will work in practice and what we can learn through employing it, and (c) a multi-site grant proposal (UK, US, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Bolivia, Poland) aimed at integrating and empirically testing these diverse evolutionary models of human fertility change.
May 17, 2015
Human cultural diversity is expressed in myriad ways (from social and marital norms to languages and religious practices), but what factors shape this diversity? Dating back to Darwin, multiple disciplines have debated the degree to which cultural diversity patterns are influenced by different factors, including history, demographics, and ecology. Over recent years an emerging set of studies have showcased how phylogenetic comparative methods from evolutionary biology can help resolve these long-held debates and revolutionize the field of cultural evolution. Now the major barrier to advances lies in the location of necessary data, which are spread across multiple disparate sources in linguistics, biogeography and anthropology. To overcome this challenge we will create D-PLACE (a Database of Phylogenies of Languages for the study of Cultural Evolution), a publicly available and expandable web-portal that will map over 100 cultural features onto language phylogenies and link these to ecological and environmental variables, empowering a whole new line of investigation into the drivers of cultural change and patterns of cultural diversity. We will produce a paper to introduce D-PLACE and outline the many types of questions in comparative anthropology the database can answer. Finally, we will demonstrate the power of this new resource by using D-PLACE to examine two long-standing and fundamental questions from comparative anthropology: (i) What drives the diversity of incest taboos (i.e. how human societies regulate who can mate and marry)? (ii) Can we characterize recurrent âhuman nichesâ, or are societies just arbitrary bundles of cultural features?
Linking self-fertilization, dispersal and distribution traits of species: Is Bakerâs law an exception to the rule?
Bakerâs Law (hereafter BL) states that self-compatible organisms are more likely to be successful colonizers after long-distance dispersal than self-incompatible organisms. This simple prediction draws a link between mating-system evolution and diverse fields of ecology and evolution such as dispersal biology and colonization, the evolution of range size and range limits, demography and Allee effect, and invasion biology. However, after >60 years of experimental research and theory development, the accumulated data yield varying, and often contradictory, support of BL. Our working group brings together a diverse array of researchers to assess predictions and assumptions of BL and elucidate ecological, evolutionary, and demographic parameters likely to determine the relationships between mating system, dispersal, and colonization success. To accomplish these goals we will: 1) Compile the voluminous literature on BL. 2) Link the BL data with two extensive databases gathered by prior NESCent support (seed germination and seed traits data; mating system data) and a NCEAS pollen limitation database. These expanded databases will include dispersal, range size, and life-history traits, thereby creating a powerful tool for testing various aspects of the relationship between mating-system and colonization success. 3) Employ macroevolutionary tools to map mating-system and dispersal traits onto the angiosperm phylogeny to assess evolutionary patterns and phylogenetically-corrected trait correlations. 4) Formalize BL using current population genetic theory and dispersal theory. Synthetic products of our working group should elucidate the links between dispersal and mating-system in colonization success, and will influence multiple fields of research in evolution for the foreseeable future.
May 6, 2015
Primates are highly charismatic and often serve as flagship species in conservation efforts. They are also the closest living relatives of humans, and therefore hold the keys to resolving many questions about human evolution and ecology. However, the slow life histories of primates, combined with their complex social systems, their behavioral plasticity, and the challenging field conditions in which primate researchers must work, have severely limited analyses of mortality and fertility in wild, unprovisioned primate populations. This in turn limits comparative analyses that can shed light on the population dynamics and the social and ecological adaptations that have shaped both human and nonhuman primate evolution. We propose a Primate Life Histories Working Group to compare mortality and fertility schedules across taxa, to evaluate a set of hypotheses about the roles that phylogeny, ecology, and behavior play in shaping primate mortality and fertility patterns, and to examine whether life history theory predicts which vital rates are most variable across species. Using unique, individual-based life history data that have been collected from wild populations by nine working group participants over a minimum of 19 years, we will develop age-specific mortality and fertility schedules and create population projection matrices for each species. Our immediate goals are to test current hypotheses about the evolution of life histories in order to advance our understanding of primate evolution. Our longer-term goal is to move toward a collaborative, shared databank allowing analyses of irreplaceable life history data on wild primates.
April 28, 2015
A number of independent efforts have compiled global plant databases on functionally important traits of leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers. These databases are comprised of 1000's to tens of 1000's of species. With a few notable exceptions, they have not been analyzed in an evolutionary or phylogenetic context. However, when synthesized with a modern molecular phylogeny, these data could tell a comprehensive, multivariate story of the evolution of plant functional diversity. In this working group, we will merge multiple databases to explore the rate (tempo, sensu GG Simpson) of evolution of these traits and the best fit evolutionary model(s) (mode) underlying the trait diversification of land plants. We will ask 1. whether important divergences in trait space occurred along similar branches for different traits, 2. whether there were periods of evolution when trait diversification was especially rapid, and 3. whether there were interactions between trait evolution and rates of speciation and extinction. This work will lead to a new community resource of great interestâan internally synced trait matrixâmatched with the current state-of-the-art phylogeny. These data can then be synthesized with fossil evidence to explore whether the tempo and mode of trait evolution in extant and extinct taxa provide similar stories. Furthermore, these data will provide a powerful view into the coordinated (or lack thereof) evolution of ecologically important traits across vascular plantsâone of the most diverse and important lineages in the world today.
April 23, 2015
The identification and explanation of long-term evolutionary trends in higher taxa and biological communities is an important goal of biological research. Body size is the single most important ecological characteristic of metazoa and the variable most easily applied to analysis of evolutionary trends across distantly related taxa. The proposed working group will bring together paleobiologists studying body size evolution in deep time and across higher taxa with biologists studying the distribution of body sizes in living organisms from the community to global scale. The working group will initiate a community-wide database of body sizes through the Phanerozoic, an effort that requires standardized data on body size across higher taxa. The working group will also catalyze collaborations between paleobiologists and biologists to develop the theory necessary to investigate long-term dynamics in body-size evolution across diverse living and extinct metazoan lineages. The workshop will provide a venue for members to address the relationships between the pattern of body size evolution and the distribution of body sizes in extant organisms. How well can macroevolutionary patterns be inferred from macroecological ones? How well do those patterns reflect evolutionary mechanisms, whether driven or passive? Ultimately, the resulting database will become a broadly applicable and dynamic resource for macroevolutionary research, with real potential to help future workers shed light on the forces that have shaped the evolutionary trajectory of animal life on Earth.
April 12, 2015
Although the Indian and Pacific Oceans (hereafter Indo-Pacific) have long been recognized as containing the majority of marine biodiversity, their vastness poses substantial challenges for empirical research. Syntheses of published data, however, can expand the geographic scope of inference. We plan to examine the recent evolution of Indo-Pacific taxa by drawing upon all available population genetic data. We have two immediate research goals: 1) compile and analyze existing datasets for multiple species using consistent and uniform methods of analysis that represent the best current practice in population genetics to better determine oceanographic and geographic features as well as biological traits correlated with population structure. These results will inform our understanding of evolutionary processes in the region and provide information directly relevant to managers and conservation organizations. We will also: 2) conduct the first large scale multispecies investigation to infer the geography of speciation among Indo-Pacific taxa that incorporates population genetic inferences, thus testing predictions of competing biogeographic hypotheses using a novel approach. These research goals are underpinned by the creation of a database that would become publicly accessible to facilitate future studies. In addition, we plan to develop a virtual collaboration space that will support international collaborations in genetic-based research, training, and education throughout the region.
March 18, 2015
March 15, 2015
NESCent is sponsoring a hackathon to be held at NESCent in Durham, North Carolina, on March 16-20, 2015, with the objective to help foster an interoperating ecosystem of scalable tools and resources for population genetics data analysis in the popular R platform. The event is designed to target interoperability, scalability, and workflow building challenges among the many population genetics R packages that already exist. The gathering provides an opportunity for a diverse group of population genetics researchers, method developers, and people with other relevant areas of expertise to collaborate on code, documentation, use-cases, and other resources that will aid their communities.
March 11, 2015
The potential for synthetic research based on aggregating, integrating, and re-using data is enormous, yet most resources remain interoperable. To realize this potential, software and databases that handle evolutionary trees (and their associated annotations) must be interoperable. Interoperability, in turn, requires tools based on common standards. In the past few years, evolutionary informaticists, with help from NESCent, have been building a software toolbox for solving interoperability problems, based on the EvoIO âstackâ of NeXML, CDAO and PhyloWS. This toolbox makes it possible to begin building a worldwide network of interoperable evolutionary resources. The HIP (Hackathons, Interoperability, Phylogenies) aims to use the hackathon mechanism (which we have helped to develop at NESCent) to grow this network directly, by adding links to it, and indirectly, by creating examples for others to follow. To support this project within a working-group budget, we leverage support from strategic partners. Each of the planned series of 3 hackathons will bring together scientific programmers with related challenges. The hackathons target early-career scientists, who often have the most technical expertise and the most potential to pass along their skills and enthusiasm.
March 8, 2015
March 6, 2015
3-year research position in Evolutionary Genetics at Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), University of Oslo (UiO) The project is part of a larger research program entitled “On the role of hybridisation in evolution–the case of Eurasian Passer Sparrows ” funded by the Norwegian Research Council. Hybridization can have different evolutionary outcomes, ranging from speciation reversals to hybrid speciation. The Italian sparrow (Passer italiae) is the first documented case of hybrid speciation in birds (Hermansen et al. 2011). This bird originated from past events of hybridization between two divergent parental species, the house sparrow (P. domesticus) and the Spanish sparrow (P. hispaniolensis) some thousands of years ago. Today, the hybrid taxon is sympatric or parapatric with both parent species in certain regions, enabling investigations of current gene flow and the nature of reproductive barriers. Moreover, the parent species live sympatrically in large regions around the Mediterranean Sea, enabling comparisons of the reproductive barriers that isolate the parent species with those that isolate the hybrid species from either parent. The project integrates evolutionary genetic, genomic, quantitative genetic and ecological approaches to investigate the consequences of hybridization in the interplay with recombination and selection. Phenotypes of interest include beak morphology, plumage coloration, vocalization, migration behaviour and intrinsic reproductive barriers (genetic incompatibilities). Of genomic resources we have de novo assembled the house sparrow genome, which will be used as a reference for re-sequencing and genotyping efforts in this project. We aim at increasing our understanding of the modularity of the genome and of the processes of adaptation and speciation. The successful candidate will be allowed to choose aspects of the larger program as best fits her/his skills and research interests. She/he will also be encouraged to develop additional, complementary avenues of research. The candidate must have a PhD or other corresponding education in a relevant field, such as evolutionary biology, genomics, genetics and/or bioinformatics. Documented skills in population genetic/genomic and/or quantitative genetic analysis will be emphasized. The research will be conducted in close collaboration with Prof. Sætre and his group at CEES. The research team will also include other scientists from Norway, Sweden and Finland. The working language will be English. Fieldwork may be conducted at a variety of locations, including Italy and other Mediterranean countries. The application must include: Application letter, CV, copies of educational certificates, transcript of records, A complete list of publications and up to 5 academic works, Names and contact details of 2-3 references. Apply online within 24th March via Easyrecruit: http://bit.ly/1ANACfo Contact: Glenn-Peter Sætre, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Anna Runemark via Gmail
Three PhD student or postdoc position are available at the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (formerly the Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies), at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. The positions are part of the VICI project ‘On the origin of species assemblages’ awarded to prof. Rampal S. Etienne (email@example.com). The aim of this program is twofold: 1. developing a fully stochastic, dynamical, eco-evolutionary and data-friendly theory of community assembly, and 2. testing and informing this theory with model-oriented evolutionary experiments and field studies of both macro-organisms and micro-organisms. The details of the positions can be found here: PhD position Theoretical eco-evolutionary assembly of ecological communities Postdoc position Theoretical eco-evolutionary assembly of ecological communities PhD or Postdoc position Simultaneous Estimation and Selection of Species Diversification Models “Rampal S. Etienne” via Gmail
Postdoctoral Research Scholar in Bioinformatics/Microbial Ecology Institute of Ecology and Evolution Posting: 15074 Jessica Green (http://bit.ly/1A3caYw) is currently seeking a bioinformatics postdoctoral research scholar to explore fundamental questions in microbial ecology and evolution. Applicants must have a Ph.D. with extensive training using bioinformatics to understand the ecology and/or evolution of complex biological systems, and strong writing skills. The ideal candidate will have experience with statistical analysis, next-gen sequence data analysis,software development, and/or experience with combining and analyzing complex datasets from multiple sources and technologies. The successful candidate will have the ability to work effectively with faculty, staff and students from a variety of diverse backgrounds. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to creatively and independently engage in research at the Biology and Built Environment (BioBE) Center (http://bit.ly/1jC1tsQ), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The BioBE Center is training a new generation of innovators to study the built environment microbiome - the diversity of microorganisms interacting with each other and with the indoor environment. The vision of this national research center is to understand buildings as complex ecosystems and to explore how architectural design mediates urban microbial ecology and evolution. For a description of partner projects see http://bit.ly/1hBUxF8. The position is available for 1 year with the possibility for renewal depending on performance. The start date is flexible. Please email questions regarding the position to Jessica Green (firstname.lastname@example.org). To apply A complete application will consist of the following materials in a single attachment: (1) a brief cover letter explaining your background and career interests (2) CV (including publications), (3) names and contact information for three references. Submit materials to email@example.com. Subject: BioBE Posting 15074 To ensure consideration, please submit applications by April 2, 2015. This position will remain open until filled. The University of Oregon is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution committed to cultural diversity and compliance with the ADA. The University encourages all qualified individuals to apply, and does not discriminate on the basis of any protected status, including veteran and disability status. via Gmail
Postdoctoral Research Scholar - Microbial Ecology and Evolution Posting 15060 Institute of Ecology and Evolution Brendan Bohannan at the University of Oregon (http://bit.ly/1jC1tsU) is currently seeking a postdoctoral research scholar to explore fundamental questions in microbial ecology and evolution. Applicants must have a Ph.D. in a biological, computational, or mathematical field and strong writing skills. Experience developing and applying theory and and/or modeling to microbial systems is highly desirable. The successful candidate will support and enhance the university’s and the institute’s commitment to diversity and be a key member of the META Center for Systems Biology (http://bit.ly/1pzwQlx). The Microbial Ecology and Theory of Animals (META) Center for Systems Biology is devoted to understanding how host-microbe systems function and how this knowledge can be used to advance human health. The successful candidate will interact closely with other META Center members, as well as take a leadership role in the Bohannan Research Group. We are especially interested in candidates who have a strong desire to ask fundamental ecological and evolutionary questions of host-associated microbial communities. Women and minorities encouraged to apply. We invite applications from qualified candidates who share our commitment to diversity. The position is available for 1 year with the possibility of renewal conditional on performance and funding. The start date is flexible. Please email questions regarding the position to Brendan Bohannan (firstname.lastname@example.org). To apply A complete application will consist of the following materials in a single attachment: (1) a brief cover letter explaining your background and career interests (2) CV (including publications) (3) names and contact information for three references Submit materials to email@example.com. Subject: Posting 15060 To ensure consideration, please submit applications by April 2, 2015. This position will remain open until filled. Position subject to criminal background check. EO/AA/Veterans/Disability institution committed to cultural diversity. http://bit.ly/1CFLClV via Gmail
Research Scientist Position in Genomics A research scientist position in bioinformatics and computational biology is available in the Malone Laboratory of Gene Dosage and Evolution. The laboratory addresses questions of gene dosage, aneuploidy, sex chromosome evolution, and sex determination to ultimately understand the relationship between gene dose, genome balance, and phenotype. The research scientist will take part in de novo assembly analyses of several frog species and analyze a variety of high-throughput sequencing datasets to address questions of dose, dosage compensation, and genome evolution. Proficiency with multiple scripting languages, high-throughput sequencing analysis, and tools for computational, comparative, and evolutionary genomic analysis are required. The environment for genomic research at the University of Connecticut is vibrant, including the Institute of Systems Genomics, University of Connecticut Health Center, Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, and Center for Genome Innovation. The Malone laboratory interacts closely with these centers and resources, creating exciting new avenues for answering questions in genome biology. Candidates should expect to engage with the local genome analysis community. Applicants should send a single PDF file that contains a cover letter describing your research interests and experience (maximum 2 pages), C.V., and contact information for three references to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications will be reviewed immediately until the position is filled. Candidates interested in a postdoctoral position are also encouraged to apply and informal inquires from candidates with other backgrounds in genomics and evolutionary biology are welcome. John H. Malone Assistant Professor of Genetics and Genomics Institute of Systems Genomics Department of Molecular and Cell Biology University of Connecticut http://bit.ly/1DRIq1Q email@example.com via Gmail
PhD position: Evolutionary ecology of genome size Despite an explosive increase of genomic information during the last decade the ultimate causes of genome size variation in eukaryotes are still controversial. At the core of this controversy is the puzzling genome size variation across eukaryotic taxa, which spans approximately five orders of magnitude. The goal of this project is to investigate the mechanisms and significance of genome size variation at short evolutionary timescales, such as variation among closely related species, among populations, and among individuals within a population. Our model system is the facultative asexual rotifer Brachionus plicatilis, a cryptic species complex consisting of at least 14 closely related species. Within this complex we focus on a lineage that has undergone a 1.9-3.5 fold increase in genome size relative to its sister-species (e.g., http://bit.ly/1FiyT6l). Within this lineage we also study a population that exhibits a remarkable 25% continuous variation in genome size. The project aims are: (1) to elucidate the mechanisms of genome size variation by comparative genome sequencing (2) to experimentally determine how variation in genome size is maintained within populations and inherited during sexual reproduction, and (3) to test assumptions and predictions of general hypotheses on genome size evolution using intra-population genome size variation, e.g., that clones with small genome size are favored by selection for maximum population growth rates under nutrient limitation, that clones with large genome size accumulate deleterious mutations faster than clones with small genome size, or that genome size variation at the population level significantly co-varies with cell size, body size and egg development time. The PhD candidate will be involved in all three project aims, in particular aims (1) and (3). On the methodological level, the PhD project will include experimental work with rotifer cultures, genome size measurements using flow cytometry, basic molecular genetic techniques (e.g., PCR), genome sequencing and bioinformatics. The latter will be done in close collaboration with Dr. David Mark Welch at the Josephine Bay Paul Center (MBL, Woods Hole, USA). This will involve a stay at the MBL for a training in genomic analysis of approximately two weeks duration. The main work will be done at the research institute for limnology in Mondsee (http://bit.ly/1Noq0h4), which is part of the University of Innsbruck. The PhD candidate will be expected to enroll at University of Innsbruck. The project is funded by the Austrian Science Funds (FWF) and salary is according to their regulations (http://bit.ly/1FiyT6m). The Institute for Limnology is located in Mondsee, a small town in the Salzkammergut lake district, which lies approximately 30 km east of the City of Salzburg and 200 km east of the City of Innsbruck. The Salzkammergut area is among the most popular regions in Austria. It offers a high quality of life and exceptional opportunities for all kinds of outdoor activities. The Institute has a staff complement of approximately 30, including 8 research scientists, who work on various areas in evolutionary ecology of aquatic organisms. Applicants should have a M.Sc. degree and a good background in evolutionary biology. Previous experience in experimental work is also advantageous. To apply for this position, please provide: (i) a letter of motivation (in English) including a statement of your research interests, relevant skills and experience; (ii) a short CV including publications (if applicable); (iii) the names of at least two independent referees. All materials should be emailed as a single PDF to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading EVOL_GS_PHD. Application deadline is the 04 Apr 2015. The University of Innsbruck is an equal opportunity employer and particularly encourages applications from women. For more details, please contact: Dr. Claus-Peter Stelzer (email@example.com) “Ri, Simone” via Gmail
PhD positions in animal palaeogenomics and epigenomics at the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD), Adelaide, Australia We are currently conducting a number of projects investigating the genomic evolution of large mammals during periods of rapid environmental change occurring during the late Pleistocene and the Holocene (supported by Australian Research Council grants DP140104233, LP130100646, and FL140100260). Key aims of these projects are to: - Resolve the evolutionary history of living and extinct megafaunal species - Characterise demographic responses of animal populations to past environmental change - Explore hybridisation, extinction and speciation events to better understand how ancestral genetic diversity is distributed among surviving populations - Study the process of selection through time at the genomic scale, and investigate relationships between the strength and direction of selection and environmental variables - Examine the role that epigenetic modifications play in facilitating rapid adaptation to environmental changes Study species include a range of mammals, predominantly ungulates and carnivorans, for which ACAD already possesses a large collection of sub-fossil material. In addition, there is scope within these projects for collecting new specimens from museums and directly from the field. For example, we recently collected deep-frozen bison bones from Canadian gold mines to complement our existing collection of bovid specimens. See blog posts at: - http://bit.ly/1FinmnD - http://bit.ly/1Nog1sd Multiple positions are available and are open to both international and domestic students. Applicants should have interest and a record of exceptional academic achievement in at least one of the following areas: ancient DNA, evolutionary biology, bioinformatics, or molecular biology. The projects will suit hard-working and motivated candidates who can demonstrate independent thinking and good communication skills. Training will focus on the generation and analysis of Next Generation Sequencing data, with potential for fieldwork and opportunities to gain skills in both molecular biology laboratory techniques and bioinformatics. ACAD collaborates with a team of high-profile international researchers from Europe and the USA, and successful applicants will be co-supervised by Prof. Alan Cooper, Dr Bastien Llamas and Dr Julien Soubrier at ACAD, School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide. For more information about ACAD, check out http://bit.ly/1wjI463 for links to Twitter, Facebook, our blog, recent publications and the official website. Interested applicants are encouraged to send a resume, a cover letter, and the contact details of three referees to Dr Bastien Llamas ( firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr Julien Soubrier ( email@example.com). The next application round is in April 2015. Both the Australian Department of Immigration and University of Adelaide expect international applicants to meet the English Language Proficiency (ELP) requirements. The ELP is based on high scores in IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). For further information please refer to http://bit.ly/1ktxIY8. Competitive scholarships are available via the University of Adelaide Graduate Centre for domestic ( http://bit.ly/1ktxIHU) and international students ( http://bit.ly/1iMxKwV). via Gmail
The Genealogical World of Phylogenetic Networks
BMC Evolutionary Biology