February 12 2015

12:00 158 Hershey Hall

Emilia Martins
Department of Biology (EEB), Indiana University

Taking the long view: Evolution of complex behavior in a complex world


Phylogenetic comparative studies offer unique insight into the ancient evolutionary history, current constraints, and the outlook for future survival of animal species. Our lab studies the interactions between different elements of complex phenotypes and how those interactions facilitate or constrain evolution. First, I describe phylogenetic comparative methods being developed in my lab which combine fossil, biogeographic, and multivariate phenotypic information to gain fresh insight and to generate novel hypotheses. I then illustrate these methods with a large-scale comparative study of Sceloporus lizards, in which we found an evolutionary relationship between motion and chemical signals that serve similar communicative function \(a broadcast of territorial boundaries\). I then report on field experiments that test this hypothesis, finding evidence that lizard species that have lost an aggressive blue belly patch compensate for this loss by producing more aggressive motion displays. In two independent evolutionary events, lizard species have preserved communicative function by switching from a static color signal that is always present to dynamic motion signals that can be turned off in the presence of predators. I then describe how we are using phylogenetic comparative methods to predict the evolutionary response to recent factors such as climate change and pollution. Switching to population-level comparisons of the aggression-boldness syndrome in wild zebrafish, I report on our efforts to improve the precision of our estimates by measuring and modeling behavioral plasticity, including the effects of physical and social context, previous experience, sensory sensitivity, and seasonality.











































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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