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Snakes that jump and fly, and other oddities

Flying snakes are perhaps the world’s most unconventional gliders, turning their body into a wing by changing shape and undulating in the air. In this talk, I’ll discuss our experimental and theoretical efforts to understand the biomechanical features that underly this unique form of flight. Some of these specializations, such as jumping to cross gaps, also appear in sister taxa, suggesting that some aspects of their glide system were evolutionarily co-opted.

The role of sociality in cetacean ecology, evolution, and conservation

Sociality - the suite of socially learned behaviors specific to a group of animals – is increasingly recognized as an integral strategy to the evolutionary ecology of many non-human animals. This is especially true in marine environments, where there are few barriers to dispersal, and top predators must find other ways to segregate and identify their niche space. In this hour I will share four examples of recent and ongoing research projects that incorporate the lens of sociality into our understanding of the evolutionary ecology of cetaceans.

Why are there more of some types of species than others?

Biodiversity is uneven both across geographic regions and branches of the tree of life. In this talk, I will explore one possible cause for this pattern: variation in the rate at which new species form. Using a data set from lizards and snakes, I will discuss the possible factors influencing speciation rate variation.

Note: this talk was not recorded at the request of the speaker.


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