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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.

R. Martin photo.

Time/Date: Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 3:30 p.m.*
Location: Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Speaker: Dr. Ryan Martin, NIMBioS Postdoctoral Fellow
Topic: Ecological causes of phenotypic selection and divergence
Abstract: The concept of natural selection provides a powerful explanation for both the fit between organisms and their environment and for the origins of biological diversity. However, while natural selection describes the process that leads to adaptive evolution, it is not the cause. The causes (or "agents") of selection are those environmental conditions and ecological interactions that produce differential fitness between individuals. Agents of selection are often unidentified, and knowledge of their relative importance, how they interact, and if they differ in the form or magnitude of selection and evolution they cause is lacking. In this talk, I present several approaches for addressing this issue. First, I describe how resource competition causes disruptive selection favoring alternative resource specialist morphs in spadefoot toad tadpoles (Spea multiplicata), and how the strength of selection is spatially variable. Next, I describe how variation between populations in multiple, interacting environmental parameters causes evolutionary divergence in a complex trait, male coloration, in the Bahamas mosquitofish (Gambusia hubbsi). Finally, to explore patterns of natural selection and their causes across a broad range of taxa, I present preliminary results from a synthetic analysis of experimental studies manipulating ecological and environmental parameters to explore their affects on fitness.

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

Seminar Flyer (pdf)

For more information about this and other NIMBioS Seminars, visit

R. Martin.

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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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