March 14 2012

5:00 pm 154 BSRB

EcoEvoPub Series

Graduate Student Presentations


Allison Fritts-Penniman
Dept of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCLA
In marine environments, there are insufficient geographic barriers to attribute the great diversity of species to allopatric speciation. Coral reefs provide many opportunities for diversification through ecological niche specialization. Previous work on nudibranchs, such as Phestilla sp., suggests that speciation may occur as a result of switching to new coral hosts within the same geographic range. However, the question remains as to whether this divergence occurred in the presence of gene flow, and if so, how reproductive isolation evolved between populations on different coral hosts to complete speciation. For my dissertation I plan to answer these question by examining adaptive genomic divergence and identifying mechanisms of reproductive isolation.

Deborah Bird
Dept of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCLA


As yet, we know very little about olfactory function in extinct mammals. One of the only preserved remnants of olfactory anatomy in fossil mammals is the cribriform plate(CP), a perforated bony cup at the anterior base of the brain case. It is through the holes (foramina) of this plate that the axons from olfactory epithelium pass from the nasal chamber into the olfactory bulb of the brain. Among living mammals there is marked variation in cribriform morphology across species, which likely reflects aspects of olfactory ability. This suggests that the cribriform plate may be established as a metric for olfactory function that may be applied to fossil skulls to gain insight into the olfactory ecology of extinct species.

Toward this end I am examining CP morphology in the context of behavioral ecology, olfactory anatomy, and olfactory receptor genes. Specifically, I have compared CP morphology in arctoid carnivorans from distinct (aquatic and terrestrial) habitats, ecologies that cover a spectrum of olfactory demands. Additionally, I have begun to examine the relationship between CP morphology and the highly variable number of olfactory receptor genes across the mammalian lineage. This talk will share the background and preliminary results from this project.















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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