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NIMBioS Seminar Series

In conjunction with the interdisciplinary activities of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), a seminar series on topics in mathematical biology will be hosted at NIMBioS every other Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. (unless otherwise noted) in the Hallam Auditorium, Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd. Seminar speakers will focus on their research initiatives at the interface of mathematics and many areas of the life sciences. Light refreshments will be served in the 1st floor visitor breakroom beginning 30 minutes before each talk. Faculty and students from across the UT community are welcome to join us.

M. Lawing photo.

Time/Date: Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 3:30 p.m.*
Location: Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Speaker: Dr. A. Michelle Lawing, NIMBioS Postdoctoral Fellow
Topic: Species geographic response to past climate change and the evolution of multivariate systems
Abstract: Geographically explicit models integrating data and methods from geology, ecology, evolution, and climate science provide a deeper understanding of the biology of climate change. I integrate rich geological and paleoclimatic data with an evolutionary concept of the climatic niche. Projecting phylogenetically informed species distribution models over the last three glacial-interglacial cycles (320 thousand years ago) indicates that species within the rattlesnake genus Crotalus tracked their habitat as opposed to adapting to climate change. The rate of geographic displacement of suitable habitat over the next century will be two to three orders of magnitude faster than it was over the last 320 thousand years. A deeper time perspective of spiny lizard (Sceloporus) response to climate change, early Miocene (20 million years ago) to present, shows that neutral models of climatic niche evolution are not validated with fossil occurrences. Better models and parameters to describe phylogenetic changes in climatic niches, and other multivariate systems, need to be explored. I propose a method that explicitly deals with the issues of non-independence of traits and variant covariance matrix structures by treating the covarying traits as a mathematical system that rotates, translates and scales through trait space.

*Join us for refreshments at 3 p.m. in the 1st floor visitor breakroom.

Seminar Flyer (pdf)

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For more information about this and other NIMBioS Seminars, visit

M. Lawing.

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NIMBioS is supported by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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