Public programs at UCMP : UCMP's annual short course

Evolution is the only explanation

As we look at the biodiversity around us, we stare in wonderment at complex courtship behaviors, bizarre ornamentation and display, extraordinary adaptations to severe conditions, and unusual means of communicating, eating, and reproducing. The diversity is overwhelming and evolution is the only explanation! Come join the experts to learn more — this short course will give you a chuckle as well as an increased appreciation for life around us. This short course is cosponsored by the Berkeley Natural History Museums (BNHM) and Science@Cal.

Saturday, March 3, 2012
2050 Valley Life Sciences Building
9:00 am to 3:30 pm
Registration opens at 8:15 am





Welcome, logistics, and introduction by Judy Scotchmoor


Setting the stage — Dave Lindberg


Orchestrating the score: Complex communication strategies in jumping spiders
Damian O. Elias, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley
Jumping spiders are small, ubiquitous arthropods that have long been renowned for their colorful ornaments and complex visual behaviors. Recently, it was discovered that during courtship, males not only dance using their colorful appendages but also sing, using intricate multi-component vibratory songs. Jumping spider communication is more akin to birds of paradise than other well known spiders or insects. Elias will discuss jumping spider courtship behavior and in particular the forces that drive the evolution of complex behaviors in animals.


Biodiversity hotspots — an evolutionary response to climate change
Craig Moritz, Director, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology and Professor, Department of Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley
Biodiversity is the result of 3.5 billion years of evolution and the constant turnover of originations and extinctions responding to environmental changes. Biodiversity varies greatly across the globe as well as within regions. Around the world, at least 25 areas qualify as biodiversity "hotspots" — regions where evolutionary processes have produced a high level of endemic species. Globally, we have a reasonable understanding of where the hotspots of unique biodiversity are. Drawing from studies of rainforest biotas on multiple continents, I will outline how models of persistence through climate change of the ice ages can improve prediction of biodiversity hotspots within hotspots, and then consider how museum collections can be used to document and understand response to recent (20th century) climate change.


Evolution revealed: How a musical instrument evolved from feathers
Kim Bostwick, Curator, Birds and Mammals, Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates
The details of a unique anatomical and behavioral wonder of a small Andean bird, the Club-winged Manakin, pose an evolutionary puzzle. The bird creates resonant oscillations by rubbing together modified wing feathers to produce sounds for use in courtship displays. The question is: "how might this extreme morphology and odd instrument have evolved?" Bostwick will introduce the closest living relatives of the Club-winged Manakin and continue to guide the audience through the logic of reconstructing the evolutionary history of the feathers, bones, behaviors and sounds that most likely led to the unique features observed in the odd Club-winged Manakin.


Break for lunch (on your own)


Evolution can explain our sex lives
Marlene Zuk, Professor of Biology, UC Riverside
Male and female animals are both strikingly different and surprisingly similar. Elephant seal bulls are twice the size of the females. Male birds of paradise look so unlike the females, the sexes might be mistaken for different species, while female praying mantids unceremoniously munch on their mates during sex. What has produced these extraordinary behaviors and structures? Evolution, of course, via a process called sexual selection. Zuk will explore the amazing variety of animal sexual behavior, showing how evolution has produced the firefly's flash, the frog's croak, and the tail of the peacock.


Spotted hyenas: Acrobatic mating, problematic births and female dominance
Stephen Glickman, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Integrative Biology, and Director of the Field Station for the Study of Behavior, Ecology and Reproduction
Female spotted hyenas are social carnivores that live in multi-male, multi-female “clans” on the plains of sub-Saharan Africa. Within these clans, female spotted hyenas totally dominate adult male immigrants, at kills and in other aspects of daily life. They also display the most highly “masculinized” genitalia of any female mammal. As will be conveyed in a video, their reproductive anatomy poses serious obstacles to mating and birth. For more than two decades, with collaborators drawn from many disciplines, we have been studying the physiological mechanisms that account for the unique reproductive anatomy of female spotted hyenas, while attempting to understand the evolutionary influences that might have produced these very unusual social carnivores.


Open questions

About the speakers

Kim Bostwick received her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Kansas in 2002, and since then has worked as the curator of birds and mammals at the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates. Bostwick's research focuses on avian behavior, wing morphology, and evolution of wing-made sounds in birds. Her research program has allowed Bostwick to travel all over Central and South America, South Africa, and Papua New Guinea to audio- and video-record birds. In 2005 Bostwick was featured in Nature's "Deep Jungles" three-part series, where she danced like a Red-capped Manakin to the tune of Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean." This clip of video was extracted and posted to YouTube where it went viral and has been viewed millions of times, spawned many knock-offs, and brought great fame and fans to an otherwise little known bird.

Damian Octavio Elias received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Arizona in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology working extensively on grasshopper feeding behavior and physiology. After working on moth behavior as a research technician with the Arizona Research Labs–Division of Neurobiology, he joined the department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University. There Elias worked on communication behavior in jumping spiders with Dr. Ronald Hoy and received his doctoral degree in 2005. After post-doctoral fellowships with Dr. Andrew Mason at the University of Toronto and Dr. Wayne Maddison at the University of British Columbia, Elias joined the department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley, as an Assistant Professor in 2009. See his website.

Steve Glickman is Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Integrative Biology, and Director of the Field Station for the Study of Behavior, Ecology and Reproduction. After receiving his Ph.D. at McGill University with a focus on brain/behavior relationships, he taught at Northwestern University and studied curiosity in more than 100 species of mammals and reptiles housed at The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago (when Marlin Perkins was the Director). The latter experience led to a life-long interest in the relationship between ecology, behavior, and correlated physiological mechanisms.

Craig Moritz received his Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology from the Australian National University. After a postdoc at the University of Michigan, using novel molecular techniques to understand how all-female species of lizards evolve, he moved to the University of Queensland to teach and pursue studies of the evolution of Australia's amazing biota, before returning to the U.S. to take up his current position. Much of his research now focuses on combining new tools from genomics and environmental modeling to improve understanding of biotic response to climate change.

Marlene Zuk is a professor of biology at the University of California, Riverside. She studies animal behavior and the evolution of sexual behavior, mainly in insects. Her research has taken her to many parts of the world, including Hawaii, the Cook Islands, and Australia. In addition to many technical articles and book chapters, she has written many popular articles for magazines and newspapers such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Natural History, and is the author of three books for a general audience, most recently Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love and Language from the Insect World.

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