Monday, 15 May 2017

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 18 May 2017

Biosciences Seminar Series - Spring 2017
18 May 2017 - 1pm - Zoology Museum

Life after death: evolution in a grave

Prof Rebecca Kilner

Photo by Holger Gröschl / Wikipedia

We are delighted to welcome Professor Rebecca Kilner, Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the Department of Zoology at University of Cambridge (UK), to give a talk at our Biosciences Spring Seminar Series. Becky is a behavioural and evolutionary biologist interested in understanding how social evolution generates biodiversity, and to use that knowledge to better address conservation problems (e.g. role of rapid evolutionary change, understanding the limits to adaptation to rapid environmental change, etc.). Of special interest to Becky and her lab (see here) is the role of parental behaviour in evolutionary processes, from the effects on genetic and phenotypic diversity to the role of parents as agents of natural selection and speciation. As study systems her research has been focussing on birds and, more recently, on burying beetles.

Behavioural ecologists analyse animal behaviour to understand how it is adaptive, and therefore why it persists. In our lab, the focus is slightly different. We want to know how adaptive traits, like animal behaviour, influence the subsequent course of evolution. We address this question by using experimental evolution and we focus in particular on a social trait, namely parental care. 

     Our model species is the burying beetle, a remarkable insect that breeds upon the body of a small dead vertebrate. It shows elaborate parental care, which involves preparing the carcass to make an edible nest for its offspring and provisioning larvae after hatching. I will describe experiments that manipulate the provision of parental care and measure the way in which traits then evolve and adapt, in both parents and offspring. The general conclusion is that there are diverse ways in which behaviour can change evolution.

Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!

For the list of forthcoming seminars see here

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