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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 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 15, 2015
February 26, 2015
Evolutionary biology is a foundational and integrative science for medicine, but few physicians or medical researchers are familiar with its most relevant principles. While undergraduate students have increasing opportunities to learn about the interface of evolution, health, and disease, most premedical students have scant room for electives in their schedules, few premed prerequisite courses incorporate evolutionary thinking, and no medical school develops these competencies. The overarching goal of this Working Group is to lay the groundwork for future endeavors by providing testable models and pathways for infusing premedical and medical education with evolutionary thinking. This Working Group, an interdisciplinary, international, and intergenerational group of physicians, scientists, educators, and students, will 1) define core competencies in evolutionary biology for physicians and other health professionals; 2) investigate the ability of current curricula to prepare health professionals to meet these standards; 3) identify âteachable momentsâ that provide opportunities to integrate evolutionary principles into premedical and medical curricula; 4) design model curricula and learning experiences that can advance evolutionary education for health professionals; and 5) provide open access to these resources and disseminate them. The Working Group will be supported by an Advisory Committee of senior academic leaders and stakeholders. These efforts will not be sufficient in themselves, but they will establish the intellectual platform from which educational interventions on student learning, and scientific and clinical problem solving, can be developed and tested.
Americans are far less accepting of human evolution than other realms of evolution; yet, human evolution and our common ancestry with other animals are increasingly relevant to medicine and our daily lives. We propose a NESCent working group made up of scientists, educators, and a journalist that will be devoted to enhancing communication of these health-related applications of human evolution to diverse audiences. Planned activities include discussion of methodological approaches designed to best communicate these ideas, design of teacher workshops, writing publications geared to each of these audiences, and discussion regarding collaboration with museums (in particular, the Smithsonian Institution) and zoos. In these activities, we will take a systematic scholarly approach using evidence-based methods to foster communication of principles of human evolution to these diverse audiences.
February 22, 2015
It is easily demonstrable that organisms with rapid, appropriate plastic responses to environmental change will prevail over genotypes with fixed phenotypes. It is also accepted that the general dearth of organisms successful across a wide environmental range indicates fundamental limits to or costs of plasticity. The nature of constraining factors has been broadly discussed (DeWitt et al. 1998), and numerous studies have been done to quantify them. However, a curious pattern has emerged: although hypothesized to be widespread, costs are absent more often than they are detected. The issue of costs of plasticity (CoP) lies at the intersection of a range of evolutionary and ecological questions: What are the limits to plasticity? Are CoP associated with life history tradeoffs? Are CoP expected in all environments? Does plasticity enhance invasiveness? etc. This working group will address two fundamental questions. 1) Are the expectations that costs of plasticity should be universal well-founded (i.e., the Âno free lunchÂ principle)? Several authors have proposed that, in situations where the intensity of selection for adaptive plasticity is strong, there should be corresponding pressure to ameliorate costs. 2) Independently of the answer to the first question, Are analytical and experimental methods for detecting CoP appropriate or sufficiently sensitive? CoP have most often been studied using common garden style plasticity experiments and analyzed via van TienderenÂs (1991) multiple regression approach.
February 10, 2015
A working group to solve problems in model selection and phylogeny in mixed multi-factor meta-analysis
Meta-analysis is a statistical technique used for syntheses of results from numerous independent studies. Increasingly, evolutionary biologists need to perform meta-analysis in which the effects of numerous explanatory variables on a response variable of interest are considered, taking into account the evolutionary history of the species in the dataset. However, such analyses require analysis of numerous complex statistical models, and methods for such analyses have not been previously developed. Our working group is developing these methods and applying them to understand local adaptation, context-dependency, and the influence of evolutionary relationships on outcomes of symbiosis between plants and mycorrhizal fungi.
January 14, 2015
When a seed germinates determines the seasonal environment experienced by a plant throughout its life, and germination phenology is one of the very first phenotypes expressed by plants during ontogeny. As such, germination phenology is subject to extremely strong natural selection, especially during early stages of adaptation. Moreover, germination co-evolves with seed dispersal, mating system, and reproductive strategy to determine plant life cycles and demographic dynamics of plant populations. This working group will test the importance of germination adaptations in delimiting species niche and range limits, both in the past and in response to changed environments. More generally, this topic pertains to the identification of key traits associated with adaptation to environmental change, and the role that early life-stage traits and traits associated with habitat selection contribute to these dynamics. The focus on germination provides a clear and tractable system for addressing general evolutionary and ecological questions concerning the interactions between ontogeny and adaptation, trait coevolution, and the roles of habitat selection and organismal responses to their environment in niche evolution. It also will contribute tangibly to efforts to predict plant responses to environmental change. The group will compile and analyze a comprehensive data set on germination and dormancy, combined with data on niche breadth, geographic range, and life history, in order to test hypotheses concerning trait coevolution and species range limits. The group will also theoretically explore interactions between ontogeny and adaptation, theoretically model trait coevolution via habitat selection and bet hedging, and develop phenological models of integrated life histories that include germination in order to predict plant responses to environmental change.
January 13, 2015
Humans are vulnerable to a number of unique musculoskeletal maladies as a consequence of our evolutionary history. Although walking on our extended hind limbs is the hallmark adaptation characterizing our species it nevertheless makes us vulnerable to a wide range of serious joint and soft tissue problems. When viewed from an evolutionary perspective many of these medical issues become understandable and, indeed, novel methods of diagnosis and treatment can emerge. The proposed collaborative, a working group of paleoanthropologists, comparative anatomists, biomechanical engineers, and physicians will create new analytical approaches and new ways of viewing the disorders that uniquely plague our species. The results of this work include the development and implementation of a model curriculum, the creation of a website, and the publication of an edited volume. The disorders directly related to our way of walking include chronically sprained ankles, hernias, osteoporotic fractures of the hip, spine, and forearm, obstetric problems, knee problems, foot disorders, fatigue fractures, and many others. By understanding how our anatomy changed in order to walk upright, and why these changes occurred, we gain a better understanding of why these adaptations sometimes go awry resulting in disorders and pain.
December 17, 2014
We propose a catalysis meeting to advance theoretically-grounded, empirical study of scientific collaborations designed to achieve synthesis. Synthesis is the integration of diverse theories, methods and data across spatial or temporal scales, scientific phenomena, and forms of expertise to increase the generality, parsimony, applicability, or empirical soundness of scientific explanations. It generates emergent explanations beyond the scope of any one discipline, dataset or method. It counterbalances scientific specialization, capitalizes on existing data, and can be used to address complex problems. Synthesis centers are an increasingly vital component of science policy, rising in number, size, and prominence nationally and globally. Despite this, our understanding of synthesis-group collaborations and their performance are inadequate to advance knowledge, inform policy and guide practice. This meeting will draw together scientists who lead and conduct synthetic research with a diverse group of experts on scientific collaboration and research evaluation. Our aim is to advance understanding of synthesis and develop new approaches for investigating it empirically, longitudinally and comparatively.
December 9, 2014
Wednesday, 12:00 PM at NESCent, Ninth Street and Main Street, Erwin Mill Building, 2024 W. Main Street, Suite A200. For more information, call 919-668-4551
December 7, 2014
Making science more reproducible has enormous potential to accelerate scientific advance, including for practicing individuals. Despite this, the tools and approaches that are already available are rarely taught. To address this, we are organizing a 4-day workshop aimed at developing, and later teaching, a short course curriculum for tools, resources, and practices for reproducible science. A part of the workshop will also be devoted to addressing gaps that hinder the broad adoption of such resources.
December 2, 2014
November 28, 2014
BBSRC South West Doctoral Training Partnership, UK Topic: Analysis of interactions between slugs and weeds in arable crops using next generation sequencing Main supervisor:Prof. William O.C. Symondson(School of Biosciences, Cardiff University) Second supervisor: Dr Ian P. Vaughan (School of Biosciences, Cardiff University) Dr Pablo A. Orozco-terWengel (School of Biosciences, Cardiff University) Dr James R Bell (North Wyke, Rothamsted Research) Slugs are major crop pests throughout the temperate world, especially in the UK where the climate fosters high densities, threatening profits and food security. They are ecosystem engineers, having hierarchies of preference for the seedlings of different weed and crop species that alter subsequent plant community composition. Removal of weeds (with herbicides) results in greater slug damage to the crop while slug control (with molluscicides) is highly weather-dependent and slugs persist. Better understanding of the preferences of slugs for different weed species offers the opportunity to be more selective in the management of weeds and slugs in major crops such as wheat and oilseed rape. Selective herbicides can remove weed species less palatable to slugs, that are likely to be major competitors (e.g. monocots like Blackgrass) with the crop, while leaving seedlings that are palatable unharmed to potentially divert slugs from consuming the crop. Next Generation Sequencing will be used to analyse plant DNA in gut and faecal samples collected from slugs to determine their weed/crop preferences. We will target the ITS2 gene, exploiting the near comprehensive database of Welsh and UK sequences that now exists. Ratios of different plant species in the slugs will be compared with the abundances of weeds and crop plants in fields using Monte Carlo simulations and co-occurrence modelling to determine preferences. Plots trials will calibrate our field results and test the viability of selective weed control to protect crops. The multidisciplinary team of supervisors will ensure major training opportunities. WOCS will provide training in molecular analysis of herbivory, using NGS; POTW will provide bioinformatics training (NGS output); IPV will supervise Monte Carlo model development for herbivory and JRB will advise on co-occurrence networks (for slug-weed interactions). Rotations:1) NGS of gut contents requires comprehensive barcode databases for sequence identification. The student will be provided with a self-contained set of material to barcode from ongoing work into the diets of endangered species (supervisor WOCS). Expertise will be acquired in both practical molecular analyses and tree construction. 2) A major problem in diet analyses is differential DNA survival during digestion of sequences from different species, compounded by factors such as amplicon size and gene copy number. Feeding trials (using project-relevant slugs and weeds) will be conducted and decay curves will be incorporated into new Monte Carlo plant choice models (supervisor IPV). Training will be in conducting trials and model development, both directly relevant to the PhD.For information please contactSymondson, William O.C., Prof | Symondson, William O.C., ProfInformation about a member of staff at the School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK. | Pablo Orozco-terWengel via Gmail
PhD Project in Ecological / Evolutionary Epigenetics (fully-funded) We seek a highly-motivated student for a fully-funded PhD scholarship position commencing in 2015. The project will investigate environmental stress induction of epigenetic variation in colonial tunicates. More broadly, the project seeks to determine if epigenetic changes provide an evolutionary ‘buffer’ against rapid environmental change and a mechanism to compensate for low levels of conventional genetic variation. The student will be enrolled at the University of Auckland (www.auckland.ac.nz) but will be based at the Cawthron Institute, Nelson, New Zealand (www.cawthron.org.nz). The successful applicant will have a sound background in both molecular and population genetics along with a good grasp of bioinformatics theory. The student must be comfortable with learning new software for bioinformatic and statistical analyses. An ecological background would also be advantageous. Applicants should hold a relevant Hons / Master’s degree and must be eligible to enrol in the University of Auckland’s PhD programme. This PhD scholarship has an annual stipend of NZ$25,000 (tax free) plus student fees for a period of 3 years subject to satisfactory progress. International (i.e. non-New Zealand resident) students are welcome and encouraged to apply. For more details contact Dr Kirsty Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org). Andrew Fidler via Gmail
TWO POST-DOC POSITIONS INSECT PHEROMONES AND COGNITION, PARIS, FRANCE Each position is a full time, 2-year contract. Expected starting date: from March 2015 ANR-funded project PHEROMOD: Pheromones as general modulators of insect behavior In addition to their well-documented function as communication signals, some pheromones have been recently shown to play a role as $B!H(Bmodulators$B!I(B of cognitive phenomena, facilitating or inhibiting associative learning and memory both in vertebrates and invertebrates. The project aims at investigating the modulator effect of pheromones on experience-dependent behaviour of three insect species, the honeybee Apis mellifera, the ant Lasius niger and the moth Agrotis ipsilon, in order to determine the mechanisms that are either conserved across species or species-specific and associable with particular life-styles. We will study the mechanisms and adaptive value of pheromone modulation of learning by using a behavioural approach and by focusing on octopaminergic and dopaminergic circuits, which in many insects signal appetitive and aversive situations, respectively (pharmacological approach). As odour coding changes after appetitive learning in olfactory centres of the insect brain, we will analyse if pheromone exposure modifies per se the odour code in the first olfactory relay (antennal lobe) of the three species. A combination of pheromone/neutral odour exposure and in vivo calcium imaging recordings of antennal lobe activity will be used to this end. This research project will achieve a comprehensive knowledge on how pheromones influence learning performances in three paradigmatic insect taxa. The successful applicants will have a PhD in behavioural biology, evolutionary biology or chemical ecology with a solid track record. Experience with insects, learning paradigms and/or neurophysiology (in vivo calcium imaging) is welcome. Candidates should be fluent in English. Position 1): focus on ants and honey bees. The post-doc will be based at the Laboratory of Experimental and Comparative Ethology, University of Paris 13 (http://bit.ly/1zCijvc), working with Prof. Patrizia d$B!G(BEttorre but will spend extended periods of time at the CNRS Research Center on Animal Cognition, University of Toulouse (http://bit.ly/1xYy2X1), working with Prof. Martin Giurfa. Position 2): focus on the black cutworm moth. The post-doc will be based at the Department of Sensory Ecology (INRA Versailles) of the Institut d’Ecologie et des Sciences de l’Environnement de Paris (http://bit.ly/1zCijLq), working with Dr. Nina Deisig. Candidates should send, in one single PDF file: a) letter of interest, b) Curriculum Vitae with publication list; c) contact information (e-mail, phone) for two referees who can provide letters of recommendation. DEADLINE for receiving applications: 15 January 2015 Contact for position 1): Patrizia d$B!G(BEttorre, email@example.com Contact for position 2): Nina Deisig, firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com via Gmail
Conference: MCEB - Mathematical and Computational Evolutionary Biology 21-25 June 2015 - Porquerolles Island, South of France. Webpage: http://bit.ly/1vWShF3 Pre-registration deadline: February 10th Notification to applicants: February 28th Final list of attendees: April 1st WHAT/Scope: Mathematical and computational tools and concepts form an essential basis for modern evolutionary studies. The goal of the MCEB conference (at its 7th edition) is to bring together scientists with diverse backgrounds to present recent advances and discuss open problems in the field of mathematical and computational evolutionary biology. The theme of this year’s edition will be new data, new questions, new methods. New generation sequencing techniques have multiplied not just the amount, but also the types of genetic data produced, giving rise to new questions, and new methodologies to answer them. These methodologies are often cross-disciplinary, with applications to diverse research topics. General concepts, models, methods and algorithms will also be presented and discussed, just as during the previous conference editions. WHERE and WHEN: Porquerolles Island, near Hyres, in the South of France, 21-25 June 2015. Cost: Conference fees including accommodation for four nights, meals, coffee breaks, etc., will be between 300 and 630, all inclusive, and will vary depending on the room. PhD students and postdocs will benefit of the cheapest rooms. Keynote speakers (to be completed): David Bryant - http://bit.ly/1rBOy9k University of Otago, NZ Jukka Corander - http://bit.ly/1vWShF5 Bayesian Statistics Group, University of Helsinki, FI Asger Hobolth - http://bit.ly/1rBOy9m Bioinformatics Research Center (BiRC), Aarhus University, DK Philippe Lemey http://bit.ly/1vWSg45 Rega Institute, Clinical and Epidemiological Virology, BE Bernard Moret - http://lcbb.epfl.ch/ Laboratory for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, EPFL, CH Ludovic Orlando http://bit.ly/1qXj1Qw Center for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark, DK Molly Przeworski - http://bit.ly/1nuHCrk Columbia University, New york, USA For more information, visit the website at: http://bit.ly/1vWShF3 Please forward this announcement. via Gmail
PhD in primate diversity and evolution A PhD position is available in the newly established Primate Diversity and Evolution Lab headed by Katerina Guschanski at the Evolutionary Biology Centre of Uppsala University, Sweden. Research focus: You will have the chance to study population and species level processes in a number of primate taxa, combining field-collected and historical (museum) samples and utilizing modern molecular techniques. Research topics include, but are not limited to: i) Conservation genetics and molecular ecology: the study of historical and present-day genetic diversity, dispersal, demography in wild primate populations ii) Hybridization and speciation: investigating the role of ancient and ongoing hybridization in speciation of primate taxa The exact project will be developed with the successful candidate and tailored towards her/his interests and skills. Qualification: The ideal candidate will have a strong interest and documented knowledge in evolutionary biology, with a drive to understand processes shaping species diversity. Perseverance and high intrinsic motivation are required to work on non-model organisms using difficult samples. You will be highly reliable, driven and well-organized, curious and willing to look outside the box, with the ability to quickly acquire new skills. Previous experience with molecular techniques is a must, experience with bioinformatics analysis of genomic data is a plus. Proficiency in English is required. Position: All PhD students are guaranteed 4 years of financial support. The PhD position entitles the holder to full social benefits and can be combined with up to 20% of teaching assistantship, which will extend the duration of appointment accordingly. The environment: The Evolutionary Biology Centre (EBC, http://bit.ly/16Fa1Wt) is one of the world’s leading research institutions in evolutionary biology and part of Uppsala University - the oldest university in Scandinavia. Uppsala University, ranked top among European Universities in the subject of biology (CHE European ranking), attracts approximately 40.000 students from all over the world, creating an international and stimulating research environment. The city of Uppsala is a vibrant college town, less than an hour’s train ride away from Stockholm (and even closer to Arlanda International Airport), with beautiful and easy accessible surroundings. How to apply: Send your application material including (1) a cover letter outlining your motivation to work on this project as well as relevant research experience and interests, (2) a detailed CV describing your education and listing authored publications, if available, and (3) contact details (including address, e-mail address, and phone number) of two academic referees as a single pdf document to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also include (4) an accredited copy of your MSc degree or equivalent (if already available at time of application). The application must be written in English. Review of applications will start on January 5, 2015, but candidates will be considered until the position is filled. The starting date can be as early as February 2015. Questions can be address to: Katerina Guschanski Assistant professor Evolutionary Biology Centre Department of Ecology and Genetics/Animal Ecology Uppsala University Norbyvägen 18D SE-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden Telephone: +46 (0)18 471 2673 Email: email@example.com http://bit.ly/1rwYdUi Katerina Guschanski via Gmail
The Genealogical World of Phylogenetic Networks
BMC Evolutionary Biology