news aggregator

April 8, 2014

02:21
Associate Professor in Vertebrate Zoology (anatomy/evolution) A permanent position as associate professor in vertebrate zoology is open at the University Museum of Bergen, the Natural History Collections (http://bit.ly/1klT6Sx). We are seeking a researcher within vertebrate zoology with special competence in vertebrate skeletal morphology (osteology). The successful applicant should also have competence in one or several of the new scientific methods; i.e. isotopes, trace elements or DNA and be able to apply these in research on modern as well as sub-fossil skeletal material. The comprehensive collections of skeletal material from prehistory and present time are important data for research within faunal- and environmental history, morphological adaptation or evolutionary relationships. The successful applicant is expected to document research at international level in zoology/osteology at in least one of these methods. He/she is supposed to work within faunal- and environmental history. The position is connected to the osteology collections. The University Museum of Bergen hold two comprehensive collections of vertebrate skeletons; one recent collection of c.15000 specimens (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) from Norway and a national collection of sub-fossil bones, mainly from the post glacial and from archaeological excavations. The successful applicant will have scientific responsibility for the modern skeletal collection. He/she is expected to participate in developing the collections through own research, but also by national and international cooperation as well as improvement of databases and home pages. The successful applicant is also expected to participate in teaching and in the development of zoological exhibitions at the University museum. A more detailed description of the position and information about necessary documentation which must be enclosed in the application can be found further down on this page. Additional information can be obtained from the head of the Natural History Collections, associate professor Kari Loe Hjelle, phone (+47) 55583323 / e-mail kari.hjelle@um.uib.no. http://bit.ly/1qiZjMs Bjarte Henry Jordal via Gmail
Source: EVOLDIR
02:21
PhD position in plant population genetics available at the Laboratory of Evolutionary Botany, University of Neuchatel http://bit.ly/1qiZjMC The main objective of this PhD project is to infer the evolution of selected diploid/polyploid Aegilops wild wheats in space and time. Dated phylogenies will provide a robust framework to address the comparative phylogeography of their genomes and their inhabiting transposable elements. The work combines knowledge from high-throughput sequencing, genotyping, bioinformatics, population genetics and evolutionary ecology. Field work will be conducted to complement existing data. We seek a highly motivated student with strong interest in evolutionary genomics. Skills in treating large datasets with varied statistical tools are relevant. The fellow will interact within a network of researchers and particularly with Prof. N. Salamin at the University of Lausanne, and needs to have collaborative abilities. For more information please contact Christian Parisod (christian.parisod@unine.ch) Please send your complete application (letter describing motivation and ideas for this project, CV incl. publication list and contact details of at least two references) as one single pdf to christian.parisod@unine.ch Application received before April 28th will be given full consideration. Expected start date is June 1st 2014 or at earliest convenience thereafter. Christian Parisod and Fran?ois Felber Christian Parisod Evolutionary Botany, University of Neuchatel Rue Emile-Argand 11, 2000 Neuchatel, Switzerland Phone: +41 (0)32 718 2344, Fax: +41 (0)32 718 3001 e-mail: christian.parisod@unine.ch http://bit.ly/1km2Hc4 Christian Parisod via Gmail
Source: EVOLDIR
02:21
Symposium proposals for ESEB 2015: potential gender bias Further to our recent call for symposium proposals for ESEB 2015 in Lausanne next year, we wish to encourage potential symposium organisers to take diversity (of gender, nationality and age) into account when proposing speakers for their symposium. As ESEB members will be aware, research shows clearly that (gender) bias in academia is usually not the result of intentional acts of exclusion, but rather the effect of more subtle mechanisms like implicit bias. Substantial concern has been raised about gender bias among invited speakers for symposia at previous ESEB (and other) meetings. The organisers of ESEB 2015 acknowledge this concern and wish to ensure that symposia selected for ESEB in Lausanne draw participants (both invited and those selected for inclusion when abstracts are reviewed) as broadly as possible to reflect the full research strengths of the fields represented. We thus encourage prospective symposium organisers to account for potential implicit bias before inviting speakers or submitting their proposals. Balance in terms of gender, nationality and age will be included as one criterion used by the scientific committee when selecting symposia. Further information about the symposia can be found at: http://bit.ly/1rIZnbY For symposium submission, please go to: http://bit.ly/1rIZm7V The organisers and the scientific committee of ESEB 2015. John Pannell via Gmail
Source: EVOLDIR
02:04
Postdoctoral researcher position available in computational global change ecology. Dr Daniel Reuman is recruiting into his lab in the University of Kansas Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Kansas Biological Survey. Research will focus on software aspects of two large projects: 1) Ramifications of metapopulation synchrony through the complex North Sea and North Atlantic metacommunities in the face of climate change; and 2) Revealing the mechanisms linking the structure, functioning, and dynamics of whole ecological communities using likelihood. The researcher will be expected to contribute to software development for both projects, collaborating with teams of biologists, statisticians, and modellers and pursuing independent research questions. The position could be suitable for scientists from diverse training backgrounds. See http://bit.ly/1ebXgdx for details or to apply. Contact reuman@ku.edu with questions. Daniel C. Reuman Senior Lecturer, Department of Life Sciences Imperial College London http://bit.ly/1jpHLgR Visiting Assistant Professor, Laboratory of Populations, Rockefeller University Grand Challenges in Ecosystems and the Environment initiative, member Director, MSc in Quantitative Biology http://bit.ly/1cnn41p Director, MRes in Biodiversity Informatics and Genomics http://bit.ly/PJXNYS +44 (0)20 7594 2401 “Reuman, Dan” via Gmail
Source: EVOLDIR
01:58
An undergraduate student (Aime Rankin) doing a project with me on citation and impact of museum collections came across a paper I hadn't seen before:
Strasser, B. J. (2011, March). The Experimenter’s Museum: GenBank, Natural History, and the Moral Economies of Biomedicine. Isis. University of Chicago Press. doi:10.1086/658657

Unfortunately the paper is behind a paywall, but here's the abstract (you can also get a PDF here):

Today, the production of knowledge in the experimental life sciences relies crucially on the use of biological data collections, such as DNA sequence databases. These collections, in both their creation and their current use, are embedded in the experimentalist tradition. At the same time, however, they exemplify the natural historical tradition, based on collecting and comparing natural facts. This essay focuses on the issues attending the establishment in 1982 of GenBank, the largest and most frequently accessed collection of experimental knowledge in the world. The debates leading to its creation—about the collection and distribution of data, the attribution of credit and authorship, and the proprietary nature of knowledge—illuminate the different moral economies at work in the life sciences in the late twentieth century. They offer perspective on the recent rise of public access publishing and data sharing in science. More broadly, this essay challenges the big picture according to which the rise of experimentalism led to the decline of natural history in the twentieth century. It argues that both traditions have been articulated into a new way of producing knowledge that has become a key practice in science at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
It's well worth a read. It argues that sequence databases such as Genbank are essentially the equivalent of the great natural history museums of the 19th Century. There are several ironies here. One is that some early advocates of molecular biology cast it as a modern, experimental science as opposed to mere natural history. However, once the amount of molecular data became too great for individuals to easily manage, and once it became clear that many of the questions being asked required a comparative approach, the need for a centralised database of sequences (the "experimenter's museum" of the title of the paper) became increasingly urgent. Another irony is that the clash between molecular and morphological taxonomy overlooks these striking similarities in history (collecting ever increasing amounts of data eventually requiring centralisation).

Bruno Strasser's article also discusses the politics behind setting up GenBank, including the inevitable challenge of securing funding, and the concerns of many individual scientists about the loss of control over their data. A final irony is that, having gone through this process once with the formation of the big museums in the 19th century, we are going through it again with the wrangling over aggregating the digitised versions of the content of those museums.

Update: See also
Strasser, B. J. (2008, October 24). GENETICS: GenBank--Natural History in the 21st Century? Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). doi:10.1126/science.1163399 (via Guanyang Zhang).
Source: iPhylo
01:32
Associate Professor in Systematic Botany A permanent position as associate professor in systematic botany is open at the University Museum of Bergen, the Natural History Collections (DNS),(http://bit.ly/1klT6Sx). We are seeking an active researcher focusing on plant evolution, who has expertise in systematics of vascular plants and phylogenetics. Relevant fields of research are evolutionary relationships, taxonomy and species diversity of vascular plants, and evolutionary processes generating biodiversity. Applicants must be able to document research with international standards within one or more of these fields. This position entails the scientific responsibility for a botanic garden that is more than a century old; the Museum Garden. The successful applicant will also be scientifically responsible for the botanical exhibitions at the museum, and will take part in the development of new natural history exhibitions which are currently being planned. He or she will also be expected to take part in the teaching of botany at UiB. A more detailed description of the position and information about necessary documentation which must be enclosed in the application can be found further down on this page. Additional information can be obtained from the head of the Natural History Collections, associate professor Kari Loe Hjelle, phone (+47) 55583323 / e-mail kari.hjelle@um.uib.no. http://bit.ly/1qiM9iH Bjarte Henry Jordal via Gmail
Source: EVOLDIR
01:18

The Research Group of Plant Ecological Genomics of the Department for Botany and Biodiversity Research at the University of Vienna, Austria is recruiting a Lab Technical Assistant in Molecular Biology An up to 5-years position funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) is immediately available in a research project on the evolution of wild polyploid orchids (see http://bit.ly/1qiImlm). Our exciting research makes use of an array of state-of-the-art genomic and epigenomic techniques. Apart from playing a key role in optimizing and performing parts of laboratory protocols, the Assistant will take care of orders and lab equipment. S/he will also maintain databases of protocols and samples. We are looking for a highly focused and motivated candidate that searches for exciting research opportunities and has an excellent previous record. The successful candidate must have excellent organization and communication skills, and to work in a multinational team. S/he is expected to have a degree in a related discipline (e.g., molecular biology, biochemistry) and to be able to demonstrate previous experience with molecular laboratory duties. Experience with RNA work and/or NGS library preparation will be considered as an important advantage. The Assistant should be willing to learn continuously new methodologies with the support of the rest of the team. The working language in our laboratory is English; German skills are therefore not essential, but they are highly desirable to allow a proper communication with people from outside the team. The position offers a competitive salary (according to experience min. 27,000 per year before tax for full time, including social and health security), and opportunities for career development/further training. If preferable for the successful candidate, 30 hours a week employment is also possible. To be considered please send your application per email to ovidiu.paun@univie.ac.at including your CV, a cover letter explaining why would this job fit your qualifications, experience and expectations (up to two pages), and the names and contacts of three referees. Please note: Incomplete applications will not be considered. Screening of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. The latest preferred start date is June 1st, 2014. ovidiu.paun@univie.ac.at via Gmail

Source: EVOLDIR
01:03

Dear all, My name is Emma Chance and I am a final year student at the University of Manchester working on my dissertation project. I have created a website to help people beginning or switching to using MorphoJ, for analysing geometric morphometric data, get started with fewer difficulties and have a greater understanding into the rationale and purpose behind a few of the key statistical analyses. I would really appreciate it if you could take a look at my website, and spend no longer than 5 minutes of your time to answer a quick survey about how useful you have found my resource and any improvements that I could make. Thank you very much for your time. Kind regards, Emma Chance http://bit.ly/1mXC6PO emma.l.chance@gmail.com via Gmail

Source: EVOLDIR
00:50

Dear Evoldir Members, I’m wondering if anyone could point me toward some recent comprehensive reviews, dedicated websites, or specific bodies of work on intron sequence evolution in protein-encoding genes? I am especially interested in conceptual papers and/or any that might include new tools for finding and comparing specific sequence themes independently of intron length, potential miRNA encoding regions, miRNA target sites, etc. thanks in advance for any help you can give. Bruce Turner fishgen@vt.edu via Gmail

Source: EVOLDIR
00:13
I have developed a series of active learning lessons in evolutionary biology (undergraduate level). A list and brief description of the lessons are provide at http://bit.ly/1irERpV I am interested in having folks test these lessons and provide feedback. There are descriptions of two lessons available for download with more coming depending on interest. Andrew Martin Professor University of Colorado A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions. Andrew Martin via Gmail
Source: EVOLDIR

April 7, 2014

23:59
*Understanding evolutionary rates on the avian tree of life* Keywords: rates of evolution, birds, macroevolution, phylogeny, morphometrics, plumage colour A fully funded PhD position supported by the European Research Council is available at the University of Sheffield, in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences. The candidate will work under the supervision of Gavin Thomas (http://bit.ly/1haRojN), and will investigate the rates of phenotypic evolution in birds. The project is focused on modelling phenotypic evolution of species traits in birds at broad phylogenetic and spatial scales. The aims are to test how and why phenotypic evolutionary rates vary and to ask how that variation has shaped both the avian tree of life and global distributions of species and traits. The successful applicants will join a new research team collecting novel, high-resolution morphometric data on bird bill shape using 3D structured white-light digitisation and plumage colour using visible and UV spectrum digital photography. The student will integrate into a thriving department and will receive training in morphometrics, phylogenetic comparative approaches to study macroevolution, and museum collection based research. Applications are invited from candidates with interests in macroevolution and collection based research to address questions in evolutionary biology. Prior experience in R would be an advantage. The deadline for applications is 9th May 2014. The project is open to UK/EU students. Informal inquiries can be addressed to Gavin Thomas: gavin.thomas@sheffield.ac.uk Formal applications should be made using our online application form: http://bit.ly/1bsr64U and should be accompanied by a CV and cover letter (max 1 page) explaining your interests in the studentship. In addition to the above studentship, four postgraduate research assistant and two postdoctoral research associate jobs are available. Gavin Thomas gavin.thomas@sheffield.ac.uk via Gmail
Source: EVOLDIR
23:41

This is a multi-part message in MIME format. via Gmail

Source: EVOLDIR
23:26

—_000_A1F3D237461E1D49AC83553DAE9FF57F338A507Ficexchm6icacuk_ Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”us-ascii” Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Postdoctoral researcher position available in computational global change ecology. Dr Daniel Reuman is recruiting into his lab in the University of Kansas Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Kansas Biological Survey. Research will focus on software aspects of two large projects: 1) Ramifications of metapopulation synchrony through the complex North Sea and North Atlantic metacommunities in the face of climate change; and 2) Revealing the mechanisms linking the structure, functioning, and dynamics of whole ecological communities using likelihood. The researcher will be expected to contribute to software development for both projects, collaborating with teams of biologists, statisticians, and modellers and pursuing independent research questions. The position could be suitable for scientists from diverse training backgrounds. See http://bit.ly/1ebXgdx for details or to apply. Contact reuman@ku.edu with questions. —_000_A1F3D237461E1D49AC83553DAE9FF57F338A507Ficexchm6icacuk_ Content-Type: text/html; charset=”us-ascii” Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable xmlns:v=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” xmlns:o=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” xmlns:w=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word” xmlns:m=”http://bit.ly/15edugp” xmlns=”http://bit.ly/15edwov”>

Source: EVOLDIR

April 6, 2014

23:44

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship University College London 1. The regulation of cooperation and cheating in the evolution of multicellularity 2. The evolution of genomic imprinting A 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship funded by the EPSRC is available in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, UCL. We seek an enthusiastic and highly motivated postdoc, with experience in population genetics, game theory, mathematical modelling and computer simulation. The post holder will join the research group of Professor Andrew Pomiankowski working with Dr Nick Lane (UCL) or Dr Francisco Ubeda (Royal Holloway University of London). They will be a member of CoMPLEX (http://bit.ly/1da34j7) and the 2020 Science Programme (www.2020science.net). They will join several other 2020 fellows appointed on this programme at UCL Oxford University and Microsoft Research Cambridge. Suitable candidates will be highly motivated researchers with a PhD in a relevant area of science, such as: mathematical or computational biology, computer science or biology. Research experience of mathematical or computational modelling of complex natural systems is essential, as well as the ability to conduct and complete research projects, as witnessed by published peer-reviewed work. The post-holder is expected to be exceptional early-stage scientists who will apply for further research fellowship funding during the period of the award. Please send expressions of interest & CV to ucbhpom@ucl.ac.uk. Further details and formal applications should use the following link http://bit.ly/1h6exnA Closing Date: 21 Apr 2014, 5pm 1) The regulation of cooperation and cheating in the evolution of multicellularity (with Nick Lane, UCL). Projects in this theme will extend existing theoretical work on the transition from relatively simple prokaryotic forms of life to complex, multicellular euwww.2020science.net). They will join several other 2020 fellows appointed on this programme at UCL Oxford University and Microsoft Research Cambridge. Suitable candidates will be highly motivated researchers with a PhD in a relevant area of science, such as: mathematical or computational biology, computer science or biology. Research experience of mathematical or computational modelling of complex natural systems is essential, as well as the ability to conduct and complete research projects, as witnessed by published peer-reviewed work. The post-holder is expected to be exceptional early-stage scientists who will apply for further research fellowship funding during the period of the award. Please send expressions of interest & CV to ucbhpom@ucl.ac.uk. Further details and formal applications should use the following link http://bit.ly/1h6exnA Closing Date: 21 Apr 2014, 5pm 1) The regulation of cooperation and cheating in the evolution of multicellularity (with Nick Lane, UCL). Projects in this theme will extend existing theoretical work on the transition from relatively simple prokaryotic forms of life to complex, multicellular eukaryotes. Research could focus on the origins of sexual reproduction, symbiosis with the proto-mitochondrion, multicellularity and the evolution of a germline, gene and protein interactions between mitochondria and the nucleus, or related topics. 2) The evolution of genomic imprinting (with Francisco Ubeda, Royal Holloway University of London). Imprinted genes are either maternally expressed and paternally silenced or show the reverse pattern of gene expression. This project will develop a mathematical framework of the co-adaptation theory of genomic imprinting, the idea that imprinting coordinates expression of positively interacting loci in different individuals. The model will be integrated into the existing body of theory, in particular the kinship theory of imprinting. Andrew Pomiankowski Professor of Genetics UCL ucbhpom@ucl.ac.uk via Gmail

Source: EVOLDIR
23:30
Field assistants in butterfly evolutionary ecology We are looking for voluntary field assistants to participate in a research project on dispersal and behavioral ecology of butterflies. The project is run by the Research Station Petite Camargue Alsacienne, University of Basel (http://bit.ly/1io5kEM, PD Dr. Valentin Amrhein). Fieldwork will be done from June to August 2014, at the Research Station Petite Camargue Alsacienne in France, about 10 km north of Basel (Switzerland). Field assistants will participate in a capture-mark-recapture study and in translocation experiments, and some knowledge on identification and handling of butterflies would be an advantage. We cannot cover travel expenses, but we offer free accommodation and use of the infrastructure at the research station. Field assistants will receive a compensation of 600 Euros for the field season to cover food expenses. Applicants are expected to stay for the entire field season from beginning of June until the end of August. The positions will be filled as soon as possible. Applications should be in English and should include, in one single pdf or word file, a curriculum vitae and a letter of motivation. Please send applications by email to the following address: PD Dr. Valentin Amrhein Zoological Institute University of Basel pca.recherche@orange.fr Valentin Amrhein via Gmail
Source: EVOLDIR

April 5, 2014

23:27

Dear Brian and Evoldir Members, some time ago, I had asked a question in Evoldir regarding examples of aa indels. The answers were very helpful for me, and I thank everybody. Here is a compilation of the replies. I also put the emails of the people who gave the replies to facilitate further communications. all the best pavlos — via Gmail

Source: EVOLDIR
22:30

Charles Darwin's sex life is of interest because of his consanguineous marriage (to his first cousin), which seems to have resulted in genetic problems for his children, due to inbreeding (see Charles Darwin's family pedigree network). The children of this marriage have recently been discussed in the book by Tim Berra (Darwin and His Children: His Other Legacy). This book discusses Darwin's children mainly in the context of Darwin's own life. Unfortunately, it does not delve much into his personal relationship with either them or his wife, Emma. His private life remains fairly private.

In particular, the book fails to draw any inference from the obvious fact that there were 10 of these children, plus two possible miscarriages. However, obviously we do learn indirectly about a certain part of Mr Darwin's private life. After all, one does not get a woman pregnant accidentally (no matter what your friends try to tell you) -- there are certain biological procedures that you need to go through, and it is fairly difficult to carry these out accidentally. Clearly, Charles and Emma were familiar with this particular activity, and carried it out successfully on numerous occasions.

Charles Darwin, 2 years before the
birth of his last child
The question is: how many occasions? We know the minimum number, but what about the average rate, for example? The Darwin cottage industry has apparently produced speculations about his sex life before (see Wikipedia), but I have not read about them. Instead, I will provide my own analysis of the situation.

Background

Charles and Emma married on 29 January 1839, when Charles was 29 years and 11 months old and Emma was 30 years and 8 months old. This is pretty late to be starting a family, although not necessarily unusual, and it does have an influence on the calculations.

Emma realized during the following April that she was pregnant (ie. within 3 months); and during the subsequent 18 years she was pregnant a total of 11 more times. On average, there were 500 days between each of the first nine pregnancies, as shown in the first graph. This means that during those 12 years she spent 55% of her days being pregnant and 45% of them not pregnant.


Wikipedia paints an interesting picture of marriages in Victorian Britain (Women in the Victorian era):
When a Victorian man and woman married, the rights of the woman were legally given over to her spouse. Under the law the married couple became one entity where the husband would represent this entity, placing him in control of all property, earnings and money. In addition to losing money and material goods to their husbands, Victorian wives became property to their husbands, giving them rights to what their bodies produced: children, sex and domestic labour. Marriage abrogated a woman's right to consent to sexual intercourse with her husband, giving him 'ownership' over her body. Their mutual matrimonial consent therefore became a contract to give herself to her husband as he desired.The extent to which Emma was involved in the decision to spend more than half of her time pregnant is therefore open to debate. Both her letters and those of her husband do not, as far as I know, reveal any marital difficulties — indeed, quite the contrary. However, Charles' has left us written evidence of his pre-marital ideas about marriage (Darwin’s notes on marriage), which indicate his specific intention to have a family available in his old age.

Note that there are reported to have between two miscarriages between the 9th and 10th births, one in 1852 (when Emma was 44 years old) and one in 1854 (when she was 46). Emma was 48 years and 7 months old when she delivered her final child. Along with the miscarriages, it is worth noting that the final child was born mentally disabled (probably Down's syndrome, for which there is a 1 in 11 chance at age 49), and he died after 18 months. Also, the third child was born after only 36 weeks of pregnancy (instead of the "normal" 40 weeks), and lived for less than a month. Darwin's favorite child was his 2nd (Anne), who unfortunately died of tuberculosis at age 10. The remaining seven children survived to adulthood.

We can also note that the children were born during most periods of the year, as shown in the next graph. However, five of the births were during the 3-month period from early July to late September, implying conception during the period October to December.


In English-speaking countries there is a peak of births in late September, 9 months after the Christmas celebrations (Wellings et al. 1999; Tita et al. 2001). (In Scandinavia, the birth peak is 9 months after the mid-summer celebrations.) Given that two of the births were in this period, we might accuse the Darwins of fitting into this behavioral cliché. However, one of the these two births was the shortened pregnancy, so that conception in that case was on or near to their 3rd wedding anniversary, rather than Christmas. The other conception dates do not fit any pattern that I can see.

All of the above data lead me to the conclusion that most, if not all, of the pregnancies were the result of more-or-less continuously ongoing sexual activity, rather than being the result of deliberate attempts to conceive, or being incidental by-products of celebratory activity. That is, the pregnancies occurred as chance dictated, given the night-time activities being undertaken.

This leads us to the key question of how often these activities took place. We can do some general calculations that might be informative.

Calculation

We now know that the potentially fertile period of human female ovulation is 12 days out of every 28, and vaginal sex during this period should be avoided if you do not wish to be involved in a pregnancy (Arévalo et al. 1999). Within this window of opportunity there is a 6-day period during which conception is most likely (Dunson et al. 2002; Stirnemann et al. 2013), and if you are trying to conceive a child then sex at least twice during this period is the recommended strategy. (Each egg lasts 1 day, but sperm last for 3 days, so that sex more than 2-3 times doesn't seem to improve your chances.) Clearly, sex once during this 6-day period is a reasonable minimum expectation for conception.

However, the probability of conception even under these minimum circumstances is very dependent on the age of the female involved. (The eggs are produced early in the female's life, and the eggs age along with the woman, so that older eggs have reduced fertility; Broekmans et al. 2009.) For example (Siebler 2009; Sozou & Hartshorne 2012), in her early 20s a healthy fertile woman has a 20–25% probability of conception each month. The average time to achieve conception for this age group is 4 months, and the likelihood of conception within one year is 93–97%. More importantly, in her early 30s (as Emma was when she married) the probability of conception each month drops to 10–15%, so that the average time of conception is 10 months and the likelihood of conception within one year is c.72%. The probability keeps dropping until menopause (where it reaches zero), so that, for example, the likelihood of conception within one year is c.65% for a woman in her late 30s.

Emma, near the time of her marriage
This means that, given her age, Emma had to receive sperm during every ovulation cycle, in order to maintain a 50% chance of getting pregnant within any one year (she got pregnant on average every 9-12 months). If you know the ovulation times, then that rate requires sex 13 times per year. If you don't know the times, or you don't know anything about ovulation cycles (and it seems likely that Victorian women did not), then it requires sex at least once per week in order to hit them all by random chance.

So, I arrive at the conclusion of weekly sex for the Darwins throughout the first 12 years of their marriage, and possibly for 18 years. Calculations seem to be much more difficult after that, due to lack of suitable data.

I have no idea whether this weekly rate was normal for Victorian couples, but it certainly seems to be quite normal in the modern world, for people of their age. As shown in the next graph, people in their 30s and 40s currently report having sex every 4-5 days throughout the year (Mosher et al. 2005; Schneidewind-Skibbe et al. 2008). So, Charles' sex life would fit perfectly into the 21st century.

From Mosher et al. (2005)
Postscript

Finally, it is interesting to note that Charles started writing what he called his "Big Species Book" shortly after the birth of his final child. Furthermore, he converted this incomplete manuscript into what is now known as On the Origin of Species after the early death of that same child. Other events were involved in these decisions, of course, but his changing family life is unlikely to have been the least important of them.

References

Arévalo M, Sinai I, Jennings V (1999) A fixed formula to define the fertile window of the menstrual cycle as the basis of a simple method of natural family planning. Contraception 60: 357-360.

Broekmans FJ, Soules MR, Fauser BC (2009) Ovarian aging: mechanisms and clinical consequences. Endocrine Reviews 30: 465-493.

Dunson DB, Colombo B, Baird DD (2002) Changes with age in the level and duration of fertility in the menstrual cycle. Human Reproduction 17: 1399-1403.

Mosher WD, Chandra A, Jones J (2005) Sexual behavior and selected health measures: men and women 15–44 years of age, United States, 2002. Advance Data From Vital and Health Statistics 362. National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD.

Schneidewind-Skibbe A, Hayes RD, Koochaki PE, Meyer J, Dennerstein L (2008) The frequency of sexual intercourse reported by women: a review of community-based studies and factors limiting their conclusions. Journal of Sexual Medicine 5: 301-335.

Siebler SJ (2009) How to Get Pregnant. Little, Brown and Co, New York, NY.

Sozou PD, Hartshorne GM (2012) Time to pregnancy: a computational method for using the duration of non-conception for predicting conception. PLoS One 7: e46544.

Stirnemann JJ, Samson A, Bernard JP, Thalabard JC (2013) Day-specific probabilities of conception in fertile cycles resulting in spontaneous pregnancies. Human Reproduction 28: 1110-1116.

Tita AT, Hollier LM, Waller DK (2001) Seasonality in conception of births and influence on late initiation of prenatal care. Obstetrics & Gynecology 97: 976-981.

Wellings K, Macdowall W, Catchpole M, Goodrich J (1999) Seasonal variations in sexual activity and their implications for sexual health promotion. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 92: 60-64.

00:48
The Parchman lab in the Biology Department at the University of Nevada, Reno is recruiting PhD students for Fall 2014 or Spring 2015. Most research in the lab utilizes high throughput DNA sequencing approaches to address questions involving landscape genomic variation, the genetic basis of adaptation, speciation and hybridization, and other general questions involving population genetic analysis of geographic, genomic, and phenotypic variation in natural populations. The research typically aims to address questions of both ecological and evolutionary significance in natural populations, and focuses on a diverse array of organisms. You can read more about research in the lab at: http://bit.ly/1lxw3kR. I am looking for students broadly interested in evolutionary biology, evolutionary ecology, population genetics and genomics, and/or computational approaches for genomic analysis. Ideal applicants would have experience in basic laboratory genetics approaches for population genetics and some familiarity with programming in R, Perl, and Unix based systems. Potential research topics for PhD students include landscape genomic variation in conifers, population genomic analysis of hybrid zones, and population genomic variation across the adaptive radiation of crossbills. This list serves only as an example, and students interested in alternative, but related research topics are encouraged to apply. UNR has a strong interdisciplinary PhD program in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology (http://bit.ly/1fKs0Ax). Graduate students accepted into the EECB program are guaranteed financial support through Teaching Assistantships (TAs) which includes health insurance and an out-of-state tuition waiver. In addition, funds are available to seed doctoral dissertation projects, for example through paying for high throughput sequencing costs. University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) is Tier I research university located in a spectacular environment at the confluence of the Great Basin and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The faculty and graduate students at UNR are highly interactive and include an internationally known group of evolutionary biologists and ecologists. A complete renovation of the Parchman lab has just been finished, and we are now equipped with ample (and new) molecular and computational resources for modern genome sequence analysis. We are also located in an ideal setting for field-based projects in the Great Basin and Sierra Nevada regions, allowing enviable access to spectacular montane and desert ecosystems. Reno is only 45 minutes from Lake Tahoe, offers a high quality of living, an excellent climate, and is a large enough city to offer diverse activities and amenities. World class rock climbing, skiing, and mountain biking opportunities are in extremely close proximity. Those interested should contact me at tparchman@unr.edu with a description of your interests, qualifications and preliminary application materials (CV, GRE scores, names and contact information for three references). Thomas L. Parchman Assistant Professor Department of Biology, MS 314 University of Nevada, Reno Max Fleishman Agriculture Building 1664 N. Virginia Street Reno, NV 89557-0314 tparchman@unr.edu Thomas L Parchman via Gmail
Source: EVOLDIR
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Salary: $19,200 - $19,800; tuition waiver Two MS Graduate Assistantships in the laboratories of Drs. Andrew Evans and Jay Grimes at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory are available beginning in Fall 2014. Selected students will participate in a collaborative research project characterizing the elasmobranch microbiome and potential interactions between bacteria and their elasmobranch hosts. The project will include tissue collection, 16S rRNA gene sequencing and bioinformatics, bacterial culture and fluorescence in-situ hybridization. Successful applicants will participate in project design, data collection and analysis, and will develop an independent line of research for their MS thesis. Applicants should have a B.S. in biology, microbiology, physiology or a closely related field and a strong desire to study elasmobranch physiology, microbiology, bioinformatics, molecular biology and/or microbial-vertebrate symbiotic relationships. Preference will be given to applicants with experience in one or more of the following areas: culture-based and non-culture-based (e.g. microbiomics, PCR/qPCR) methods for the identification of bacteria associated with tissues and organs, fluorescence in-situ hybridization or immunohistochemistry, and elasmobranch physiology/molecular biology. Minimum academic qualifications include a GPA of 3.0 and verbal and quantitative GRE scores in the upper 50th percentile. Please send to andrew.n.evans@usm.edu, preferably as a single .pdf document: 1. Cover letter highlighting interest and qualifications 2. CV including GRE scores (unofficial OK) 3. Unofficial transcripts Andrew N. Evans Assistant Professor Dept. of Coastal Sciences University of Southern Mississippi 703 East Beach Drive Ocean Springs, MS 39564 (228) 872-4298 Andrew Evans via Gmail
Source: EVOLDIR
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Radiation and Extinction - Investigating Clade Dynamics in Deep Time 10th-11th November 2014 - Linnean Society of London (UK) A two-day symposium and workshop bringing together a diverse array of researchers developing and applying methods for reconstructing deep-time macroevolutionary patterns in biodiversity, with a particular focus on analytical approaches that take advantage of the wealth of data available in the fossil record. Dan Rabosky (University of Michigan) will deliver the plenary talk, with additional confirmed presentations from Tracey Aze (University of Oxford), Natalie Cooper (Trinity College Dublin), Mario dos Reis (University College London), John Finarelli (University College Dublin), Matt Friedman (University of Oxford), Melanie Hopkins (American Museum of Natural History), Graeme Lloyd (University of Oxford), Emily Rayfield (University of Bristol), Marcello Ruta (University of Lincoln), Graham Slater (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History), Jeroen Smaers (Stony Brook University), Tanja Stadler (ETH Zrich), Gavin Thomas (University of Sheffield), and Chris Venditti (University of Reading). Further details and registration here: http://bit.ly/PBxYty Dr. Anjali Goswami Reader in Palaeobiology Department of Genetics, Evolution, and Environment and Department of Earth Sciences University College London Darwin Building 218A Gower Street London WC1E 6BT +44 (0)20 7679 2190  www.goswamilab.com “Goswami, Anjali” via Gmail

Source: EVOLDIR