Grad-Invited Seminar Nominations for 2010-2011

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EEB Graduate Student Association

To nominate a speaker for the 2010-2011 Grad-Invited Seminar, create a section heading with that person's name and institution, along with links to their personal webpage, a blurb about their research, etc. See the page from last year for examples. Deadline for nominations will be December 11. Voting will follow, and the decision should be made shortly thereafter.

Alan Lemmon, Florida State University

Alan Lemmon is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Scientific Computing. He is most interested in evolutionary biology and takes an interdisciplanry approach in his research by incorporating phylogenetics, phylogeography, speciation, population genetics, and genomics. Dr. Lemmon's empirical research focuses on reptiles and amphibians and often collaborates with his wife, Emily Moriarty-Lemmon (also a FSU faculty member), to study amphibian speciation. In addition to his research he has created EvoTutor, educational software to help teach concepts of evolution.

Research highlights include the creation of PhyloMapper, a computer program that uses maximum likelihood to test hypotheses of phylogeographic history. At the moment, he is in the process of incorporating niche models to create PhyloMapper2. Dr. Lemmon's website says the following about PhyloMapper1: "PhyloMapper implements a likelihood-based statistical framework for estimating historical patterns of gene flow and ancestral geographic locations. This method uses a phylogeny with branch lengths and the geographic localities of all individuals represented by the tips of the phylogeny. Using a spatially-explicit model of migration related to the diffusion model, I have derived an equation describing the likelihood of observing the haplotypes sampled at their current geographic locations, given the locations of their ancestors and the dispersal distance of the species. Using a maximum likelihood approach, Emily Moriarty Lemmon and I have recently applied this new framework to a 246-taxon phylogeny of chorus frogs (Pseudacris; Lemmon et al. 2007) and tested hypotheses regarding phylogeographic structure, routes of expansion, and glacial refugia (Lemmon and Lemmon, 2008). This framework, which represents an important advance in the field of phylogeography, has been implemented in the Java software PhyloMapper1."

Dr. Lemmon also has published extensively on theoretical phylogenetics. Some research highlights include: studying the effects of missing data on phylogenetic reconstruction, exploring the effects of phylogenetic model misspecification, estimating Bayesian MCMC convergence, and identifying the causes and consequences of inaccurate Bayesian branch length estimates.

Selected Publications
Brown, J. M., S. M. Hedtke, A. R. Lemmon, and E. M. Lemmon. In review. When Trees Grow Too Long: Investigating the Causes of Highly Inaccurate Bayesian Branch Length Estimates. Systematic Biology.

Lemmon, A. R., J. M. Brown, K. Stanger-Hall, and E. M. Lemmon. 2009. The Effect of Missing Data on Phylogenetic Estimates Obtained by Maximum-Likelihood and Bayesian Inference. Systematic Biology 58:130-145.

Brown, J. M. and A. R. Lemmon. 2007. The Importance of Data Partitioning and the Utility of Bayes Factors in Bayesian Phylogenetics. Systematic Biology 56:643-655.

Lemmon, A. R. and E. M. Lemmon. 2008. A Likelihood Framework for Estimating Phylogeographic History on a Continuous Landscape. Systematic Biology 57:544-561.

A. R. Lemmon. 2007. Analytical, Computational, and Statistical Approaches to Studying Speciation. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Texas at Austin.

A. R. Lemmon and M. Kirkpatrick. 2006. Reinforcement and the Genetics of Hybrid Incompatibilities. Genetics 173:1145-1155.

Camille Parmesan, University of Texas


Parmesan's early research focused on multiple aspects of population biology, including the ecology, evolution and behaviors of insect/plant interactions. For the past several years, the focus of her work has been on current impacts of climate change in the 20th century on wildlife. Her work on butterfly range shifts has been highlighted in many scientific and popular press reports, such as in Science, Science News, New York Times, London Times, National Public Radio, and the recent BBC film series "State of the Planet" with David Attenborough.

The intensification of global warming as an international issue led her into the interface of policy and science. Parmesan has given seminars in DC for the White House, government agencies, and NGOs (e.g., IUCN and WWF). As a lead author, she was involved in multiple aspects of the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, United Nations).

See for a brief informal interview.

Selected Publications
Parmesan, C, N Ryrholm, C Stefanescu, JK Hill, CD Thomas, H Descimon, B Huntley, L Kaila, J Kullberg, T Tammaru, J Tennent, JA Thomas, M Warren (1999). Poleward shift of butterfly species’ ranges associated with regional warming. Nature 399:579-583. (pdf file)

Parmesan C. (1996) Climate and species range. Nature 382:765-766.

Easterling, D.R., G.A. Meehl, C. Parmesan, S. Chagnon, T. Karl, L. Mearns (2000). Climate extremes: observations, modeling, and impacts. Science 289: 2068-2074. (pdf file)

Parmesan, C., T.L. Root & M. Willig. Impacts of extreme weather and climate on terrestrial biota. (2000) Bull. American Meteorological Soc. 81: 443-450. (pdf file)

Parmesan C. (2000) Unexpected density-dependent effects of herbivory in a wild population of the annual Collinsia torreyi. Journal of Ecology 88:392-400. (pdf file)

Parmesan C, MC Singer, I Harris. (1995) Absence of adaptive learning from the oviposition foraging behaviour of a checkerspot butterfly. Animal Behaviour 50: 161-175. (pdf file)

Singer MC and C Parmesan (1993) Sources of variation in patterns of plant-insect association. Nature 361:251-253

Parmesan C. (1991) Evidence against plant "apparency" as a constraint on evolution of insect search efficiency (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). J. Insect Behav. 4(4):417-430

Lead Author: Impacts, Adaptations and Vulnerabilities, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report (WG II), Cambridge Univ. Press

Parmesan, C. (in press) Detection of range shifts: general methodological issues and case studies using butterflies. In: Fingerprints of Climate Change. Ed. by G-R Walther, C.A. Burga and P.J. Edwards. Kluwer Academic/ Plenum Publishers.

Parmesan, C. (in press) Butterflies as bio-indicators of climate change impacts. In: Evolution and Ecology Taking Flight: Butterflies as Model Systems. Ed. by C.L Boggs, W.B.Watt, and P.R., Ehrlich. University of Chicago Press.

Parmesan, C. (2001) Coping with modern times? Insect movement and climate change. In: Insect Movement: Mechanisms and Consequences. Ed. By I. Woiwod, D.R. Reynolds and C.D. Thomas. CAB International, Wallingford.

John Huelsenbeck, University of California, Berkeley

Dr. John Huelsenbeck has wide interests in the phylogeny problems based on his web page:
  • analysis of large phylogenetic trees using Bayesian methodology,
  • treating models in a phylogenetic analysis as random variables,
  • detecting the footprint of natural selection in protein coding DNA sequences,
  • accounting for uncertainty in alignment in phylogenetic analysis, and
  • inferring population structure.

Selected Publications
Bollback, J. P., and J. P. Huelsenbeck. In Press. Parallel genetic evolution within and among bacteriophage species of varying degrees of divergence. Genetics.

Brandley, M. C., J. P. Huelsenbeck, and J. J. Wiens. In Press. Rates and patterns in the evolution of snake-like body form in squamate reptiles: Evidence for repeated re-evolution of lost digits and long-term persistence of intermediate body forms. Evolution.

Munch, K, W. Boomsma, J. P. Huelsenbeck, E. Willerslev, and R. Nielsen. In Press. Statistical assignment of environmental DNA sequence. Systematic Biology.

Huelsenbeck, J. P., P. Joyce, C. Lakner, and F. Ronquist. In Press. Bayesian analysis of amino acid substitution models. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B.

Chris Clark, Yale University


Chris got his Ph.D. at Berkeley and now he is a Postdoc researcher at Yale. He is studying mechanical sounds produced by hummingbird tails in North, Central and South America. An excerpt from his page:

I measured the morphology of approximately 330 species of hummingbird in museums, to examine patterns of hummingbird tail evolution in a phylogenetic context. Hummingbirds evolve elongated tails a number of times, and theory predicts that long tails increase drag. I've flown Anna's Hummingbirds (Calypte anna) in a wind tunnel and experimentally manipulated their tail length (using the long tails from the Jamaican Streamertail, Trochilus polytmus), to test whether a long tail increases the amount of energy necessary to fly, and also whether the top speed they can fly is reduced with a long tail. I have also tested to see whether a long tail affects the ability of the Jamaican Streamertail to maneuver.

Finally, male Anna's Hummingbird perform a spectacular display dive to females, in which they rise 30 to 50 m in the air, then dive headfirst towards the female, before pulling up at the bottom of the dive. At the bottom of the dive he emits a "dive-noise". Previous researchers thought that the dive-noise was vocal, but I have evidence suggesting that the noise is made with their tails!

Selected Publications

Clark, C. J. The evolution of hummingbird tail shape. The Auk, In press.

Clark, C. J. and Feo, T. J. Why do Calypte hummingbirds sing with both their tails and their syrinx? An apparent example of sexual sensory bias. American Naturalist, In press.

Clark, C. J. 2009. Courtship dives of Anna’s Hummingbird offer insights into flight performance limits. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. Junio 10, 2009.

Clark, C. J. and Dudley, R. 2009. Flight costs of long, sexually selected tails in hummingbirds. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 276: 2109-2115.

Clark, C. J. 2008. Fluttering wing feathers produce the flight sounds of male streamertail hummingbirds. Biology Letters, 4: 341-344.

Clark, C. J. and Feo, T. J. 2008. The Anna’s Hummingbird chirps with its tail: a new mechanism of sonation in birds. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 275: 955-962.

Tobalske, B. W., Warrick, D. R., Clark, C. J., Powers, D. R., Hedrick, T. L., Hyder, G. & Biewener, A. A. 2007. Three-dimensional kinematics of hummingbird flight. J. Exp. Biol., 210: 2368-2382.