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Evolution & Systematics

Bioinspiration and life in 3D

Nature-inspired solutions have spawned such products as potential cancer cures from animal and plants, novel antibiotics, and gecko-inspired adhesives. This “bio-inspired” approach applies integrative methods from anatomy, animal function, evolution, and biomechanics to inspire novel synthetic materials.  Further, new methods for visualizing animals has opened new doors into understanding the diversity of life.  This lecture will discuss how studies of gecko form and functions have contributed to a broader understanding of bio-inspiration.

Evolutionary legacies on the assembly of ecosystems: insights for managing biodiversity and ecosystem services in an era of rapid global change

The historical environments in which species evolved have lasting influence on the communities and ecosystems that provide services to humanity today. Dr. Cavender-Bares considers the unfolding of evolutionary history in the deep past, the role of diversification in community assembly, and its consequences for ecosystem function. Current threats to naturally assembled systems are transforming the biosphere to novel conditions, with consequences for the trade-offs we face in managing Planet Earth.

Biogeography, biome shifting, and functional traits in a widespread plant clade

In connection with our development of Viburnum (Adoxaceae) as a model lineage for studies of plant evolution and ecology, we have inferred a comprehensive dated phylogeny based on multiple lines of evidence.  Jointly with our phylogenetic inference, we have estimated past geographic movements and shifts between mesic forest biomes.  This provides us with reliable estimates for movements within and between continents throughout the Cenozoic, as well as for multiple instances of adaptation to colder climates.  Much of the action took place in Asia, with&nbsp

Cell signaling and the cytoskeleton in Giardia lamblia

The cytoskeleton is the structural framework that supports cellular form and function. More than a static structure, the cytoskeleton is a true nanomachine used for mechanical tasks across the biological scale, from organelles to organisms. The protozoan Giardia lamblia, is an intriguing single-celled parasite that depends on its cytoskeleton to latch onto the host intestine and maintain parasitism. Either due to its ancient origins or the selective pressure of its life as a parasite, Giardia lacks many cytoskeletal proteins once thought to be conserved in all eukaryotes.


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