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Genomics-inspired biology: From genes to organisms, and beyond

Charles Darwin was a brilliant naturalist who recognized many biological connections through his observations of the natural world. Darwin would no doubt revel in our ability to draw biological inferences from DNA sequences. Of course, we also know that biological inference and biological content are easily conflated and that genomics can only take us so far without proper authentication via empirical biology.

Evolution and ecology of cold-specialized insects in the Cascades Range

Montane ecosystems of the Cascades Range provide a simple, naturally replicated system to test a wide range of evolutionary and ecological processes, from the origin of cold-specialized species to the role of ecological diversification in community assembly. My research focuses on groups of insects that are dispersal limited microhabitat specialists of snowfield and riparian ecosystems. Based on extensive sampling and genetic data, I discuss biogeographic models that explain the origin, current distribution and pattern of endemism in these insects.

Understanding food web dynamics: Ignoring generalists is leading us astray

Our understanding of food web dynamics has come a long way since Bob Paine reinvigorated the study of species interaction networks.  Our mathematical theory for predator-prey interactions and food web stability in particular has progressed in leaps-and-bounds.  Nevertheless, I will argue that we — as both theoreticians and empiricists — are largely ignoring the interactions of generalist predators by assuming that the (more feasible) study of specialist predators will suffice.  Despite my academic grandfather’s call for man

Climate variability, thermal physiology, and dispersal: Are mountain streams higher in the tropics

The latitudinal gradient in species diversity is one of the most obvious ecological patterns on the planet, yet the mechanisms underlying this pattern remain unresolved and controversial. The fundamental problem relates to linking latitudinal variation in the environment to the processes that lead to the evolution of reproductive isolation and species formation.

Evolution and ecology of oddball reproduction in Australian bush tomatoes: Further evidence that “Plants are cool, Too!”

The “bush tomatoes” (Solanum) of the Australian Monsoon Tropics continue to generate questions related to reproductive ecology, species boundaries, biogeography, and breeding systems evolution. This talk will summarize work done on this unusual group of plants in the Martine lab, often inclusive of undergraduate students, through a holistic research strategy that includes fieldwork, herbarium collections, greenhouse culture, and molecular approaches.

Ecological forecasting: past, present, and future

How predictable is nature? This question is central to ecology, regardless of whether the goal is to comprehend nature from an empirical perspective, to seek a more general theoretical understanding, or to provide practical insight into the management of natural systems. In the first part of this talk (Past) I introduce the PalEON project and discuss how millennial-scale hindcasts of the Northern US are being used to reconstruct presettlement conditions and validate terrestrial ecosystem models.

When does morphology matter? Understanding bat diversity from an ecomorphological perspective

Diet evolution is a major driver of differences in morphology, function and species richness across mammal lineages. My lab’s research focuses on understanding how ecological diversification in mammals is related to the evolution of phenotypic traits, in particular those used to locate, capture and consume prey. With over 1,300 species worldwide, bats are an ideal model system for this research; they are one of the most species-rich and ecologically diverse mammal orders.

Preference Alters Consumptive Effects of Predators: Top- Down Effects of a Native Crab on a System of Native and Introduced Prey

Grason EW, Sweedler JV, Sane SP.  2012.  Preference Alters Consumptive Effects of Predators: Top- Down Effects of a Native Crab on a System of Native and Introduced Prey. PLoSONE. 7(12)


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