Theoretical Ecology Lab Tea

The Theoretical Ecology Lab Teas are informal meetings where members of affiliated lab groups give talks on their current research and receive feedback from their audience. The talks are 30 minutes (20 minutes of presentation and 10 minutes of questions) and are scheduled generally on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm. All talks this semester will be held in Eno 209 unless stated otherwise.

This semester, talk schedules and email lists will be maintained by Kaz Uyehara and Matt Grobis. Please contact one of us to have your name added to the labtea email list so that you can receive reminders about upcoming meetings.

Spring 2015 schedule

Date and time Speaker
Pawel Romanczuk
Allison Dedrick
Verónica Miró Pina
Matt Grobis
Emily Klein
No lab tea: Spring break
Open
Emma Fuller
Andrew Tilman & Phil Hannam
Alex Washburne & Jacob Socolar
George Hagstrom
Charlotte Chang
Efrat Shefer
Open
Open
Open

Note: Priority is given to graduate students. A symbol next to the speaker's name means that approval is pending for a week and graduate students can still claim the slot.

Titles and abstracts

Death by a thousands cuts: Cooperative hunting of sailfish Pawel Romanczuk

Group hunting allows predators to catch prey more efficiently. Sometimes this involves long chases and the gradual exhaustion of prey through repeated injuries before the final kill. However, this form of hunting is mostly reported in terrestrial predators (such as wolves and wild dogs) and is usually required for killing prey larger than the predator. Here we investigate a highly unusual form of group hunting. Sailfish, Istiophorus platypterus, use a turn taking strategy to repeatedly injure and exhaust their schooling prey, sardines, Sardinella aurita. During attacks individual sailfish approach the sardine school and insert their rostrum into the school to injure and subsequently capture prey. On average, 2 sardines were injured for every attack, whereas only a small fraction of attacks resulted in prey capture. This resulted in the proportion of injured prey fish rapidly increasing in the shoal with the number of attacks. Hence, it appears that each sailfish that attacks produces a mutualistic benefit for others by injuring more fish than it can capture, thereby increasing the future capture probability for conspecifics. To answer why a group-hunting strategy is beneficial for individuals in these groups, we built an individual-based stochastic model of the hunt. We found that group hunting is only beneficial for individuals in groups when hunting time is limited. The predicted optimal group site is approximately 5 sailfish per group but grouping benefits are expected for groups of up to 15-20 individuals. This unique form of group hunting raises some important issues regarding predators cognitive abilities, social organisation and predatory-prey arms races.

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Developing a spatial framework for quantifying the interactions among ocean acidification, temperature change, and fishing Allison Dedrick

Ocean acidification (OA) and changing temperatures could change the spatial distribution and persistence of marine invertebrate populations through their effects on the survival, growth, and development of invertebrate larvae, particularly those that calcify. For exploited populations, changes in population structure will also alter the spatial pattern and intensity of fishing. This project develops a framework to explore and quantify the interactions among OA, temperature change, and fishing at the population level.

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The waiting time to parapatric speciation Verónica Miró Pina

Biodiversity is based on a dynamic equilibrium between two forces: speciation and extinction. In most of the models used so far to infer the history of species diversification, speciation and extinction are seen as spontaneous events, independent of the ecological or genetic context of the species. Therefore, the process of speciation is still poorly understood. In order to understand how ecological and genetical dynamics (dispersal, recombination, genetic drift) affect speciation, I propose a microscopic model of speciation, in the presence of gene flow. This model is able to predict the effects of mutation, migration and population size on the waiting time to speciation and the spatial patterns that are most stable.

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Quantifying a self-organized antipredator response Matt Grobis

Many fish species exhibit a "startle" behavior in response to predators, a reflexive burst of swimming away from the stimulus. These startles can propagate across a group, enabling the entire shoal to quickly respond to threats. However, despite the strong selective pressure on many fish species to be coordinated when a predator is present, very little research has examined how fish self-organize in the shoal to best coordinate responses to predators. I will present preliminary analyses on golden shiner shoal behavior and information propagation in the laboratory in an effort to uncover how fish shoals deal with predation risk.

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Tell Me About It! The value of qualitative information for quantitative approaches Emily Klein

Narrative, anecdotal, or qualitative information can seem outside the realm of theoretical and quantitative approaches to ecological questions. However, such information can be deeply insightful, for example by helping to shape driving questions and useful hypotheses as well as providing additional lines of evidence. Both lines of inquiry can be essential, especially as we focus on complex questions of coupled natural-human systems. I will discuss two examples to make this point. First, briefly, the importance of narrative in providing secondary evidence for quantitative findings in my previous work. Second and in more detail, how recent interviews with West coast fishing communities have dramatically altered both model structure and driving questions for current research on the motivations of common pool resource users’ behavior and social networks construction.

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Title TBA Speaker TBA

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Title TBA Emma Fuller

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Title TBA Andrew Tilman & Phil Hannam

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Title TBA Alex Washburne & Jacob Socolar

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Title TBA George Hagstrom

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Title TBA Charlotte Chang

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Title TBA Efrat Shefer

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Links to previous schedules

  1. Fall 2000
  2. Spring 2001
  3. Fall 2001
  4. Spring 2002
  5. Fall 2002
  6. Spring 2003
  7. Fall 2003
  8. Spring 2004
  9. Fall 2004
  10. Spring 2005
  11. Fall 2005
  12. Spring 2007
  13. Fall 2007
  14. Spring 2008
  15. Fall 2008
  16. Spring 2009
  17. Fall 2009
  18. Spring 2010
  19. Fall 2010
  20. Spring 2011
  21. Fall 2011
  22. Spring 2012
  23. Fall 2012
  24. Spring 2013
  25. Fall 2013
  26. Spring 2014
  27. Fall 2014